While there are many youth-oriented programs in America today, CAP’s cadet program is unique in that it uses aviation as a cornerstone. Thousands of young people from 12 years through age 21 are introduced to aviation through CAP’s cadet program. The program allows young people to progress at their own pace through a 16-step program including aerospace education, leadership training, physical fitness and moral leadership. Cadets compete for academic scholarships to further their studies in fields such as engineering, science, aircraft mechanics, aerospace medicine, meteorology, as well as many others. Those cadets who earn cadet officer status may enter the Air Force as an E3 (airman first class) rather than an E1 (airman basic).
Whatever your interests-survival training, flight training, photography, or astronomy there's a place for you in CAP’s cadet program. Each year, cadets have the opportunity to participate in special activities at the local, state, regional or national level. Many cadets will have the opportunity to solo fly an airplane for the first time through a flight encampment or academy. Others will enjoy traveling abroad through the International Air Cadet Exchange Program -- still, others assist at major air shows throughout the nation.
Civil Air Patrol conducts its Cadet Program in a positive, safe, age-appropriate environment that follows a military model emphasizing Air Force traditions and values. Cadets have opportunities to lead, encounter challenges, and have fun as they work to become “Dynamic Americans and Aerospace Leaders.” CAP policy asserts that safety is a right and there is no place for physical, sexual, or emotional abuse in any of its programs. The CAP Cadet Protection Policy details the standards of practice that apply to all aspects of the program.
To learn more about Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Protection Policy, click here.
Cadet Program Resources
NHQ Cadet Program Site
Cadet Ribbon Checker
U.S. Air Force Careers
Within the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program, there are also additional activities cadets have the opportunity to pursue.
While the cadet program overall has elements of leadership, aerospace education, flight, and camaraderie, there are unique opportunities as well such as:
Indiana Wing Summer Encampment
In July, the Indiana Wing hosts the Indiana Wing Summer Encampment at Camp Atterbury. During encampment cadets develop leadership skills, learn about aerospace, commit to a habit of exercise, and have fun. In the past, cadets have rappeled from a rappelling tower, learned teamwork at the Leadership Reaction Course, drilled, launch rockets, and had flights in Civil Air Patrol aircraft. If a cadet would like engage in an encampment in another state that is possible too. For cadets interested in entering the U.S. Air Force, encampment is a pre-requisite for Civil Air Patrol's Mitchell award. Mitchell award recipients are eligible to enlist in the U.S. Air Force at the grade of E-3.
Powered Orientation Flights
Cadets under eighteen years old can have five front-seat rides in Civil Air Patrol aircraft. While in the front seat and at a safe altitude, they are allowed to fly the plane. Each front seat flight builds upon their knowledge of the aircraft and its systems. They learn the science of flight, for instance, the four forces of flight, basic aerodynamics, stability and control, and basic physics. They also learn the technical aspects of flight, for instance, coordinated turns, navigation, instrumentation, and the use of checklists. They are allowed as many back-seat flights as time and availability permits.
Glider Orientation Flights
Similar to powered orientation flights, cadets under the age of eighteen can have five glider orientation flights. For Indiana Wing, these flights typically occur at Bult Field in Illinois.
CyberPatriot is a National Youth Cyber Education Program, sponsored by the Air Force Association, to educate the next generation of patriotic cyber defenders of our nation's security and infrastructure. For CAP teams, there is no fee for the program and represents a positive, challenging way to learn about cybersecurity.
In the program, each team defends a computer network against a virtual cyber attack. Several rounds of competition culminate in a national competition each March in Maryland.
Johnson Flight Academy
Johnson Flight Academy is a two-week National Cadet Special Activity that focuses on flight training for cadets. During the two-week program in June, cadets receive glider, balloon, or powered flight instruction. This program is a competitive academy coordinated by the Civil Air Patrol Great Lakes Region out of the airport at Mattoon, Illinois. Although Johnson Flight Academy is a formal NCSA flight academy, there are other options for cadets to obtain flight training.
Indiana Wing cadets consistently perform well, and contribute to, the Wing's emergency services role. While cadets are not allowed to fly with aircrews during emergency services missions, they are allowed to participate in most other roles. They commonly participate in ground teams and communications. Their participation assists the community and their involvement is a key component of mission success.
National Emergency Services Academy
After Indiana Wing encampment, national Civil Air Patrol begins its annual two-week National Emergency Services Academy (NESA). NESA provides both senior members and cadets opportunities to gain experience, both academic and in-field, in CAP's emergency services role. CAP members can sign up for one-week classes in incident command, ground teams, aircrews, UAVs, water survival, and more. For more information, including which classes are offered to cadets, visit the NESA website. NESA is held at Camp Atterbury in Indiana.
Indiana Wing Civil Air Patrol has two Legislative Days in the winter: one for Indiana Paging Day in Indianapolis and another in Washington, D.C. The trip to Washington, D.C. is competitive and lasts for approximately a week with drive time.
National Cadet Special Activities
And many other National Cadet Special Activites (NCSAs) ranging from U.S. Air Force Pararescue, U.S. Air Force Space Command, Cyber Defense training, National Blue Beret. For a list of NCSA's, visit the NCSA website. NCSAs may have specific requirements. Those requirements can be found on the NCSA website.
Other opportunities also exist for cadets which include participation at air shows, trips to museums, and more.