Civil Air Patrol

Cadet Programs

Civil Air Patrol trainers talking to a cadetCivil Air Patrol’s cadet program focuses on leadership training, aerospace, fitness, and character development. Through weekly meetings, training, activities, and hands-on experiences, cadets become dynamic citizens and leaders. Focusing on topics such as aviation, science, technology, and cybersecurity, the program provides exceptional learning and development opportunities in communities across the nation. Cadets participate in team-building, public service, and career exploration experiences with unique challenges and high-adventure activities.

Highlights of CAP’s cadet program include:

Unique Learning Opportunities

Civil Air Patrol is America’s premier opportunity for aviation-minded youth to learn about and share in the thrill of flying. Cadets learn about the fundamentals of aviation through classroom activities and orientation flights. The cadet orientation flight program is available to every cadet under 18 and provides up to five flights in powered aircraft and, where available, an additional five flights in gliders.

In some locations, cadets may also have an opportunity to learn to fly drones, known as small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS). With the necessary training, cadets may earn credentials as an sUAS mission pilot or technician. Cadets who learn to fly sUAS may have the opportunity to put those skills to work in real-world missions involving disaster relief, search and rescue, and airborne photography.

Cadet Great Start

Cadet Great Start is a comprehensive introduction to Civil Air Patrol for new cadets. It transforms a cohort of ordinary youth into cadet airmen while giving cadet noncommissioned officers and officers opportunities to apply their leadership skills.

National Cadet Special Activities

Through national programs held primarily in the summer months, cadets have opportunities to pursue their personal areas of interest and explore potential careers in aviation, technology and STEM, leadership, the military, and more. These activities typically run seven to 10 days and focus on key areas of interest for cadets, including robotics, flight training, leadership schools, officer training, cyberspace and cybersecurity, search and rescue, honor guard, and more. Learn more about NCSAs here.


Thousands of cadets attend an encampment each summer, where they develop leadership skills, explore aviation and science, improve mental and physical fitness, and apply CAP’s core values of respect, excellence, integrity, and volunteer service in an age-appropriate, immersive, adventurous learning experience. Some wings may also hold their encampments during other times of the year.


CadetInvest offers various types of financial assistance opportunities to cadets. Cadets use a single online application to be considered for any CadetInvest program, including Cadet Wings, Lift/TOP, and scholarships. CadetInvest connects cadets, their aspirations, and funding partners. Cadets select the programs they are interested in obtaining financial support for when they apply.

Cadet Wings

In recent years, Civil Air Patrol has intensified its focus on youth aviation initiatives in response to the nation’s shortage of pilots in both the military and commercial sectors. The Cadet Wings program is designed to support qualified cadets as they work toward earning a private pilot certificate. The merit-based program is highly competitive. Successful cadet applicants can receive scholarships to cover some or all of the cost of their primary flight training. Learn more about Cadet Wings.

Cadet Interactive

Cadet Interactive provides an online learning platform that cadets may use to work through leadership and aerospace training courses in interactive modules.

Civil Air Patrol is responsible for educating its members and the public on the important role aviation, space, cyber, and STEM play in America’s future.

The aerospace education program serves adults and youth in kindergarten through 12th grades, reaching more than 500,000 youth each year with hands-on aerospace/STEM lessons and materials. The program offers an engaging, standards-based curriculum designed to promote interest in STEM-related careers. This includes a STEM Kit Program, K-6 STEM Program, teacher orientations flights, and hundreds of engaging lessons in more than 40 curriculum products.

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