Civil Air Patrol

Pilot FAQ

How much does it cost?

Annual membership dues vary by state. Please click here to view the membership dues table.

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.

How do I become a CAP Pilot?

You must first become qualified as a CAP Pilot. The next level of service is to be a Transport Mission Pilot (TMP). Until you become a CAP TMP, you are limited to checking out in the local aircraft (C172 or 182 most likely) and maintaining your personal and FAA currency.

The general qualifications to become a CAP pilot are:

  1. Be an active CAP member at least 17 years of age (16 years of age for CAP glider pilots).
  2. Possess a valid FAA private, commercial, or airline transport pilot certificate.
  3. Possess a class III or higher medical certificate (not required for gliders).
  4. Possess a current flight review IAW FAR 61.56.
  5. Satisfactorily complete a CAP Form 5 flight check (similar to a BFR) in an aircraft (in an appropriate group) within the preceding 12 months.
  6. Complete an annual CAP Form 5 written examination and annual aircraft questionnaires for each aircraft authorized to fly.

The qualifications to become a Transport Mission Pilot are: During authorized Emergency Services missions, CAP Transport Pilots may transport CAP members, ferry aircraft, fly “high bird” communication sorties, and transport parts or equipment needed for missions.

  1. At least 18 years of age.
  2. Current and qualified CAP pilot in accordance with CAPR 60-1, with at least 100 hours pilot in command time including at least 50 hours of cross-country flying.
  3. Qualified General Emergency Services.

Qualifications to become a Search and Rescue/Disaster Relief Mission Pilot: Once becoming a CAP Pilot and attaining 175 hours PIC time with 50 hours of cross-country time one can start training to become a

  1. SAR/DR Mission Pilot. (50 hours X-C is the A to B, 50 NM or more, kind)
  2. Qualified Transport Mission Pilot
  3. At least 200 hours pilot in command time and 50 hours of cross-country flying 3. Qualified Mission Scanner
  4. Complete all requirements listed in the most current version of the Aircrew and Flight Line Task Guide for MP.

Will CAP teach me to fly?

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. Unfortunately, we do not have any scholarships for 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. Training to fly for CAP might require more time then the weekly meetings.

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.

Do I have to wear a uniform?

Senior members may be required to wear a specific uniform during certain activities, when flying in CAP aircraft for example. 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 purchase uniform items from Vanguard www.civilairpatrolstore.com or 1-800-221-1264.

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 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 billeted 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.

How do senior members advance and earn promotions?

All promotions are at the discretion of your squadron commander, but the standard way to earn rank is determined by your time in CAP, time in your current rank, and the training you complete for your CAP position. There are other circumstances that warrant a promotion – for specifics, talk to your squadron commander. In order to receive any promotion, you must be at least 21 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent.

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.

I’m ready to join! What’s next?

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 right now. You can still help by becoming a member of the National Patron Squadron. Visit our donation page for more details.

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