Hanscom Composite Squadron

Civil Air Patrol - US Air Force Auxiliary

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements to join Civil Air Patrol as a cadet?

To become a CAP cadet, you must be a US citizen or an alien admitted for permanent residence.  You must also be age 12-18 to join, but you can remain as a cadet until your 21st birthday.  CAP does not discriminate based on gender, religion, physical handicaps, or sexual orientation.

How much does it cost to join Civil Air Patrol?

Cadet membership costs $31 per year.  There are some other costs to consider as well.  While we make an attempt to issue new members with as many free uniform items as possible, you may have to purchase some on your own.  Also, some of the local, state, and national activities have associated costs.  If you have more questions about the cost of CAP cadet membership, please come to one of our meetings and we’ll be glad to discuss it with you.

Who leads and supervises the Cadets?

CAP takes its responsibility to safeguard youth very seriously. The adult volunteers who interact with cadets (known as Senior Members) have been fingerprinted and screened by the FBI. Also as part of their leadership training, advanced cadets lead and mentor new cadets under the guidance of senior members.

Why do Cadets wear uniforms?

CAP uses uniforms to promote teamwork and develop self-discipline. The uniform motivates cadets to set high standards for themselves and to live their core values of integrity, volunteer service, excellence and respect. Additionally, cadets practice military customs and courtesies as part of their leadership training.

What uniforms do cadets wear?

The cadets wear a BDU (camouflage) uniform or  an Air Force style blue uniform depending on the activity the cadets is participating in. At Hanscom Squadron we alternate the uniform we wear to squadron meetings on a Thursday evening. Cadet membership kits include specific details on the proper way to wear the uniforms. Cadets are given help and advice they need to care for and wear the uniform correctly.

How do cadets obtain uniforms?

New cadets are eligible to receive one set of "Blues" at no cost through the Cadet Uniform Program (depending on the availability of Air Force Funding).  BDUs and other uniform items may be available at the Squadron Supply. Uniform items may also be purchased from Vanguard and other sources such as military surplus stores and military base stores.

Where do you find other gear, like Ground team gear?

Some items like the rope and carbineer are found at big box hardware stores. For items like web belts, pouches, canteens, the squadron has equipment available to loan to cadets. If you wish to purchase this type of equipment it is available at military surplus shops.

How do cadets advance and earn promotions?

Cadets advance at their own pace through self-study and group study. To progress, cadets must (1) participate actively; (2) pass a written leadership test; (3) pass a written aerospace test; (4) pass a physical fitness test; (5) participate in character development forums; (6) demonstrate they have the maturity to accept increased responsibility. In some stages of the Cadet Program, these requirements differ slightly. For more information check out our Cadet Grades & Promotion Guide

If I join Civil Air Patrol, will I have to go into the military?

Absolutely not!  By joining CAP, you are not signing any kind of contract to join the military.  Many of our cadets pursue  service academies, ROTC, and military enlistment after graduating from high school, but that is their personal decision and not a requirement of membership.

What is the time commitment for being a CAP cadet?

We realize that our cadets often have many things competing for their time.  Between school, sports, clubs, hobbies, and other extracurricular activities, teenagers are very busy indeed!  However, we expect that our cadets make a substantial effort to attend weekly meetings whenever possible and to participate actively.  Outside of meetings, cadets often spend several hours per week maintaining their uniforms and studying for their next promotions.

I want to be a pilot.  Can I learn to fly as a CAP cadet?

Yes!  CAP cadets are allowed to conduct flight training towards any FAA certificate or rating in Civil Air Patrol aircraft.  This represents a substantial cost savings for the cadet.  Most civilian flight schools charge $120+ per hour to rent an aircraft and $30-$70 per hour for a flight instructor.  A CAP Cessna 172 generally costs $70-80 per hour to fly and CAP instructors do not charge for their time!  However, this privilege is not given to everyone.  Cadets who wish to earn their pilot’s license through CAP must be members in good standing more than a year and very active with the squadron.  There are several other limiting factors.  Aircraft availability can change at the last minute due to maintenance requirements and operational needs, such as when CAP aircrews are conducting Search and Rescue or Homeland Security missions.  In addition, since CAP instructor pilots volunteer their time, there is no guarantee that you will be able to find an available flight instructor.  Basically, while this is certainly a possibility for CAP cadets, you shouldn’t join CAP just to learn to fly for less money.

I want to go into the military/ROTC/Air Force Academy/other military service academy.  Why should I join CAP?

No matter which branch of service you are considering, becoming a Civil Air Patrol cadet is a great idea!  Exposure to military-style environment will help you learn about military values, uniform wear, marching, customs and courtesies, and other military fundamentals.  You may find that the military is different than you were imagining and realize that it’s not for you.  If, however, you still wish to pursue military service, your training as a CAP cadet will help prepare you and it will give you a leg up when it comes to basic training.

I’m interested in Civil Air Patrol but I don’t think I will like the military stuff.  Will I be yelled at and forced to do pushups if I make mistakes?

Not at all.  Many people have a preconceived notion of what the military is all about from watching movies, but that “hollywood” version is far from reality.  The purpose of the military structure and organization of the cadet program is to develop traits such as teamwork, self-discipline, personal pride, and mutual respect.  At no time are cadets allowed to be punished for anything with pushups or anything of the sort.  If you are really concerned about this, please come see one of our meetings and discuss your reservations with the staff members.  We would be more than glad to lay your fears to rest!

I have another question that’s not answered above…

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Visit the Civil Air Patrol National Website www.gocivilairpatrol.com for more information about cadet programs