By Syrena Felty

On December 1st of 1941, less than a week before America became involved in World War II, the Civil Air Patrol was founded. During that time, they won recognition for coastal patrols and other civil defense activities.

What Is Civil Air Patrol?

The Civil Air Patrol is an all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary. It is the newest member of the Total Force which is made up of the normal Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. Along with those sectors are the Air Force retired military and civilian employees.

In the Total Force role, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) operates 550 aircraft and does 90% of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. They are also credited by the ARFCC with saving, on average, 78 lives a year.

There are 56,000 members of the CAP and they also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions by request of federal, state and local agencies. They also play a role in aerospace education and are mentors to more than 24,000 young people who are currently participating in the CAP cadet program.

The Civil Air Patrol has several different uniforms depending on the rank and occasion.

CAP Cadet Program

The Cadet Program is offered to youth ages 12-18. This program aims to transform youth into dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders. There are 1,000 squadron locations. Each week, cadets participate in 2 hour squadron meetings as well as one Saturday event a month. Annual dues are anywhere from $25-$60 depending upon location. Assistance may be available to cover costs.

Ranks in the CAP

Now that you have found out what is the Civil Air Patrol, you may be wondering about ranking. The civil air patrol ranks are similar to that of the United States Air Force which has officer and enlisted ranks. A break down of the ranks are as followed:

Officer Ranks:

  1. Second Lieutenant (2d Lt) - One silver bar
  2. First Lieutenant (1st Lt) - One silver bar with one silver star
  3. Captain (Capt) - Two silver bars
  4. Major (Maj) - One gold oak leaf
  5. Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) - Two silver oak leaves
  6. Colonel (Col) - One silver eagle

Enlisted Ranks:

  1. Cadet Airman Basic (C/AB) - No insignia
  2. Cadet Airman (C/Amn) - One stripe
  3. Cadet Airman First Class (C/A1C) - Two stripes
  4. Cadet Senior Airman (C/SrA) - Three stripes
  5. Cadet Staff Sergeant (C/SSgt) - Three stripes with one rocker
  6. Cadet Technical Sergeant (C/TSgt) - Three stripes with two rockers
  7. Cadet Master Sergeant (C/MSgt) - Three stripes with three rockers
  8. Cadet Senior Master Sergeant (C/SMSgt) - Three stripes with a star above
  9. Cadet Chief Master Sergeant (C/CMSgt) - Three stripes with two stars above
  10. Cadet Command Chief Master Sergeant (C/CCM) - Three stripes with a star encircled by a wreath above

Civil Air Patrol Eservices

The eServices online platform allows members a few different resources as well as manage their CAP activities and perform tasks related to membership. Some of these services include:

  1. Membership Management
  2. Training and Education
  3. Operational Activities
  4. Awards and Decorations
  5. Finance and Administration
  6. Communication


Is the Civil Air Patrol considered military?

The Civil Air Patrol is not considered military. It does have close relation to the Air Force (USAF). It serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the USAF and is organized as a nonprofit corporation.

Do you get paid in the Civil Air Patrol?

Members of the Civil Air Patrol do not receive payment, the organization is all voluntary. Members may be eligible for reimbursement for things such as travel and uniforms.

Can I learn to fly in the Civil Air Patrol?

Yes, the cadet program offers the opportunity to learn to fly. The CAP then offers scholarships to members who are interested in getting a private pilot license.

The CAP has performed missions for America for the past 75 years and received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 to honor the heroic efforts the World War II veterans brought forth. They also participate in Wreaths Across America to honor, remember, and teach about U.S. military veterans and their sacrifices.

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