About the Civil Air Patrol


Citizens Serving Communities

CAP serves America by developing our nation’s youth; performing local, state and national missions; and informing our citizens about the importance of aerospace education.

In December 1941, one week before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Civil Air Patrol was founded by more than 150,000 citizens who were concerned about the defense of America’s coastline. Under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Forces, CAP pilots flew more than 500,000 hours, were credited with sinking two enemy submarines and rescued hundreds of crash survivors during World War II. On July 1, 1946, President Harry Truman established CAP as a federally chartered benevolent civilian corporation, and Congress passed Public Law 557 on May 26, 1948. CAP was charged with three primary missions – aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services. With the passage of Public Law 106-398 in October 2000, Congress provided that “The Civil Air Patrol is a volunteer civilian auxiliary of the Air Force when the services of the Civil Air Patrol are used by any department or agency in any branch of the federal government.”



• Is classified as a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) corporation.
• Operates as the all-volunteer civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force when performing services for the federal government.
• Includes eight geographic regions consisting of 52 wings (the 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia).
• Has nearly 1,500 squadrons, and more than 61,000 volunteer cadet and adult members nationwide.
• Provides opportunities for members to serve the community, participate in resident and/or distance learning leadership development training and acquire new skills to benefit personal and professional growth.
• Operates one of the largest fleets of single-engine piston aircraft in the world, with 550 currently in the fleet.
• Flies approximately 112,000 hours annually.
• Maintains a fleet of more than 900 emergency service vehicles for training and mission support.
• Provides support to cadets and adult members through more than 550 chaplains.
• Supports members with about 100 corporate staff at CAP National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.



• Educates adult and cadet members and the community on the importance of aerospace.
• Provides support for educational conferences and workshops nationwide.
• Develops, publishes and distributes national academic standards-based aerospace education curricula for kindergarten through college classrooms.
• Offers grant, award, college credit and scholarship opportunities for adult, cadet and teacher members.
• Provides educators with free educational programs, products and services, including orientation airplane flights.
• Provides comprehensive aerospace education resources online.



• Conducts 90 percent of inland search and rescue in the U.S., as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and other agencies.
• Coordinates Air Force-assigned missions through the CAP National Operations Center at Maxwell AFB at a cost of $120-$160 per flying hour.
• Performs aerial reconnaissance for homeland security.
• Saves an average of 80 lives per year (100-plus in FY 2010).
• Provides disaster-relief support to local, state and national organizations.
• Transports time-sensitive medical materials, blood products and body tissues when commercial routes are unavailable.
• Provides impact assessment, light transport, communications support and low-level route surveys for the U.S. Air Force.
• Assists federal law enforcement agencies in the war on drugs.
• Conducts orientation flights for Air Force Junior and Senior ROTC cadets.
• Maintains the most extensive VHF and HF communications network in the nation.



• Includes more than 26,000 members ages 12 through 20.
• Educates youth in four main program areas: leadership, aerospace, fitness and character development.
• Provides after-school cadet program to enrich school curricula.
• Offers orientation flights in powered and glider aircraft, and flight training scholarships.
• Provides about 10 percent of each year’s new classes entering U.S. Air Force Academy.
• Provides enlistment in the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and U.S. Coast Guard at higher pay grade for cadets who have learned the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award.
• Provides activities and competitions for cadets at the local, state, regional and national levels.
• Provides an International Air Cadet Exchange program.
• Provides college scholarships in several disciplines.
• Provides opportunities for community involvement through color guard/drill team presentations and an active role in emergency service missions.
• Provides opportunities to test-fly careers in aviation, space and technology through dozens of summer activities.
• Challenges youth to be ambassadors for a drug-free lifestyle.