Civil Air Patrol

Adult FAQ

Adults FAQ

How old do I have to be to join?

Senior Members must be at least 18 years old. There is no maximum age limit.

Am I expected to join the military?

No, you do not have to join the military.

Is prior military experience counted?

Regular and Reserve officers of the Armed Forces of the United States, active, retired, or honorably discharged, may be advanced to a CAP grade equivalent to their grade in the Armed Forces (but not to exceed lieutenant colonel), in recognition of their military knowledge and experience.

Regular, Reserve, and National Guard Senior Noncommissioned Officers of the Armed Forces or Coast Guard of the United States, active, or retired, in the grade of E-7 through E-9 may receive an advanced CAP grade in recognition of their military knowledge and experience.

Such promotions are neither automatic nor mandatory, but are at the discretion of the promoting authority.

Do I have to wear a uniform?

Senior members may be required to wear a uniform during some activities – such as when flying in CAP aircraft. Senior members may wear the USAF style blue uniform or one of the distinctive CAP uniforms. However, some members choose to serve quietly without wearing a uniform. You can find purchase uniform items from Vanguard. or 1-800-221-1264

Do CAP members have access to military bases and get to shop at the BX (Base Exchange)?

You will only have access to the base when participating in CAP events. You will be allowed to shop at the BX only when on official orders and lodged on the base. Authorized uniform items can be purchased at the Military Clothing sales store.

Are non U.S. citizens allowed to join?

Aliens admitted for permanent residence are eligible. Other non-citizens must request a waiver of the citizenship requirement through the wing and region commander.

I’m not a pilot. What would I do in CAP?

There are many volunteer positions in CAP. Whatever your talent or area of interest, there is a squadron or unit that needs you. To find out what positions might be available to you, contact a local squadron.

What criteria must a pilot meet to fly with CAP?

To be eligible to fly a corporate aircraft, the pilot must possess a valid FAA private, commercial or airline pilot certificate; must be an active CAP member at least 17 years in age; and must possess a valid and current medical certificate. The member must complete a flight check in the aircraft within the preceding 12 months as well as an annual written examination and annual aircraft questionnaires for each aircraft authorized to fly. The pilot must have 200 PIC hours and 50 cross-country PIC hours to serve as a mission pilot.

Will CAP train me to be a pilot?

CAP does not normally provide primary flight training for members. That said, we do have a lot of members who are also Certified Flight Instructors and often willing to provide training to members at reduced rates. Depending on your locality, CAP members may also have access to military aero clubs and their flight instructors which can be significantly cheaper than going through a normal commercial operation. We have several scholarships that help CAP Cadets obtain a pilot’s license and a few that are targeted to our adult members. See our scholarships page for details.

Once you have your license, you can fly with CAP CFIs in CAP aircraft to increase your ratings which can also be significantly cheaper than a commercial operation again.

How much time will I have to give each week?

Most squadrons meet weekly for about 2 1/2 hours, and offer special activities on the weekends and during the summer.

How do senior members advance and earn promotions?

In order to receive any promotion, you must be at least 21 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent.

What kind of aircraft does CAP have?

CAP has approximately 550 aircraft, mostly Cessna 182s and 172s. CAP has the largest fleet of single-engine piston aircraft in the world and through CAP’s volunteer members, CAP logs about 120,000 flying hours per year.

Why do I have to submit fingerprints with my application?

In order to ensure the best possible protection of CAP cadets, all senior members are fingerprinted and checked by the FBI to ensure no one with any violent or sexual-assault felony convictions has contact with the cadets.

How long does it take to process my application?

Once National Headquarters receives the completed application, fingerprint card, and correct dues the process generally takes 3-5 business days. However, if you’re membership is not yet active, please ask your commander if he has sent your application to NHQ. If he has, you can email NHQ for an update on the status of your membership at

Do I get paid to be a member?

No, you are a volunteer member of Civil Air Patrol. All activities you do are donations of your time and expertise to help your country and community.

Am I considered a member of the military?

No, you a civilian and do not have any obligation to any branch of the military. You can not be deployed, called to active duty, or forced to serve in any branch of the US Armed Services in any way.

I’ve been arrested before; can I still be a member?

You will have to submit information regarding your arrest and each case will be reviewed by a Membership Review Board.

I want to join! Now what?

Please visit our “How to Join” page for a step-by-step guide to joining CAP. You’ll also find a link to our online unit locator to find a CAP unit near you.

Want to support CAP, but don’t have the time?

Many citizens want to support the great work of CAP, but simply don’t have the time. You can still help by becoming a member of the National Patron Squadron. Visit our donation page for more details.

How much does it cost?

Annual membership dues vary by state. Please view the membership dues table.

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