Many Americans have never heard of the Civil Air Patrol. If you are one of them, here is a quick CAP 101!
The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is a federally funded non-profit organization that serves as the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. Dating back to the 1940s, the primary mission of this military support organization is to provide emergency services, to include disaster relief and search and rescue by ground and air. Civil Air Patrol is also responsible for aerospace education and cadet programs that include awards and promotions for its youth volunteers.
Youth who are between the ages of 12 and 18 may join the Civil Air Patrol as cadet members. They are supervised by a team of senior members, who are adult volunteers that undergo a background screening before being accepted. All cadets begin with the rank of Airman Basic, and undergo a series of leadership, aerospace, physical fitness, and drill and ceremonies testing in order to progress through the ranks. Upon reaching the age of 18, individuals may elect to become senior members or remain as a cadet until their 21st birthday.
The primary function of the Civil Air Patrol is inland search and rescue. In fact, CAP provides more than 85 percent of all federally based search and rescue missions, conducting these operations from Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. They also partner with Joint Rescue Coordination centers in Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Alaska.
In providing disaster relief, the Civil Air Patrol partners with other organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the U.S. Coast Guard, to name a few. Among the disasters this organization responds to are hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and earthquakes.
The Civil Air Patrol was among the first organizations to respond following the terrorist attacks on the United States on 9/11. In recent years, CAP has been called on in increasingly high numbers to support operations conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, to include helping combat drug trafficking. While they provide assistance to these organizations, minors are never placed in harm’s way in order to carry out a specific mission.
There is no upper age limit on joining the Civil Air Patrol. This agency also does not discriminate against those with disabilities, as there is something for everyone to do regardless of their physical limitations. We have even had the honor of senior members in the Civil Air Patrol contact us to have special paracord bracelets made to show their appreciation to the volunteers that work so hard to make their organization a success.
Just as with any branch of service, we thank the dedicated volunteer Patriots of our Civil Air Patrol for their service!
At *your* service,