Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program
One of the missions of Civil Air Patrol (CAP), as chartered by Congress, is cadet programs. CAP offers one of the most robust youth leadership programs in the country and we, at Hanscom Composite Squadron, are home to a very vibrant cadet program!
The CAP Cadet Program presents a unique opportunity for America's youth to learn leadership skills, gain knowledge and understanding of aerospace science, develop an appreciation for the importance of life-long physical fitness, and gain reinforcement of their core values through character development.
The mission of the Cadet Program is to provide the youth of our nation with a quality program that enhances their leadership skills through an interest in aviation, and simultaneously provide service to the United States Air Force and the local community. The Cadet Program seeks to provide America with a pool of young, dynamic aerospace leaders for the future. United States citizens or aliens admitted for permanent residence between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age are eligible for initial cadet membership. Individuals who join CAP as a cadet prior to their 18th birthday may remain cadets until their 21st birthday.
The goals of the Cadet Program are to:
- Provide an environment where cadets learn teamwork, refine their communications skills, become self-disciplined and develop self-confidence;
- Develop the cadet's knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for understanding aerospace principles and the total impact of aerospace power upon society;
- Assist the cadet develop a personal ethical foundation and an understanding of the moral issues through discussion and debate;
- Guide cadets in how to become physically fit and develop a lifelong habit of regular exercise;
- Encourage cadets to participate in a variety of special activities and programs to enhance their learning of leadership principles and aerospace science.
Through study and performance, cadets work through a series of achievements and milestone awards. As cadets progress, they advance in grade, increase the scope of their leadership responsibilities, earn awards, and become eligible for nationally-sponsored special activities and scholarships.
The CAP cadet program is comprised of five main elements:
- Leadership. CAP cadets learn the basic principles of leadership and they are given many formal and informal opportunities to lead. This training provides cadets with a life-long skill set that helps them to be successful students, employees, managers, and citizens! Cadets are able to develop their leadership skills through leadership roles and many local, state, and national activities!
- Aerospace. Many of our cadets come to the organization with a love of aviation and space exploration, but many others do not. However, all CAP cadets learn about the history and science of air and space and their importance to our society and our national security. Our cadets participate in monthly aerospace education classes, which involve activities ranging from learning how planes fly to building and launching model rockets. CAP cadets are also eligible for Orientation Flights, where experienced CAP pilots take them flying free of cost!
- Fitness. Current research has shown that our lifelong physical fitness habits are developed in large part during adolescence. CAP cadets participate in monthly group physical fitness activities and must pass a physical fitness test for each promotion. The focus of this aspect of the CAP cadet program is on team building, camaraderie, and developing healthy living habits.
- Character. The CAP cadet program strives to produce the best possible future leaders and citizens for America. Integral to this goal is helping cadets discuss ethical dilemmas in a controlled, classroom setting. Each month, all cadets participate in a Character Development discussion. Cadets also give and receive mentoring and feedback to help them grow as leaders and people.
- Activities - Cadet Program's activities element is designed for cadets to apply their leadership skills, explore aerospace careers and display their overall enthusiasm for the cadet ethic. Each squadron decides what activities it undertakes based on the interests of its leaders and members. All units should strive to be well-rounded and offer activities encompassing all three CAP missions.
Civil Air Patrol cadets are exposed to these five elements through a variety of activities:
- Weekly Meetings. Hanscom Composite Squadron cadets meet year-round on Thursday nights from 6:15-9:15pm at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.
- Squadron Activities. Our cadets enjoy participating in a variety of activities including search and rescue training, model rocketry, going to air shows, community service, formal military-style banquets, marching in local parades!
- Orientation Flights. CAP Cadets, as mentioned above, get to fly planes and the Air Force picks up the cost!
- Encampment. Every summer, cadets from all over Massachusetts gather for a week of team-building, leadership training, and challenging activities.
- National Cadet Special Activities. Cadets from all over the country can go a variety of week-long activities ranging from a week of simulated Air Force pilot training to search and rescue training schools to flight academies to leadership seminars. For more information about these activities, click here.
- Wing Conference. Each March, the adult and teenage CAP members in Massachusetts come together for our annual conference. It is an opportunity to learn more about CAP, reminisce with old friends, make new friends, and recognize our members’ efforts with awards.
- Tours. In the past, Hanscom Composite Squadron cadets have been able to tour facilities such as Boston MedFlight, Hanscom AFB Security Forces, Hanscom Tower, Massport, Draper Laboratories, and many more! Cadets get to investigate different career fields and learn more from the people who work in them.
These are only a few of the many opportunities available to Civil Air Patrol Cadets! If you would like to know more about this program, and come visit us to see a meeting, please click on “Contact Us” on the menu above and get in touch!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are the requirements to join Civil Air Patrol as a cadet?
A. 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.
Q. How much does it cost to join Civil Air Patrol?
A. 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.
Q. If I join Civil Air Patrol, will I have to go into the military?
A. 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.
Q. What is the time commitment for being a CAP cadet?
A. 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.
Q. I want to be a pilot. Can I learn to fly as a CAP cadet?
A. 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.
Q. I want to go into the military/ROTC/Air Force Academy/other military service academy. Why should I join CAP?
A. 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.
Q. 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?
A. 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!
Q. I have another question that’s not answered above…
A. Please click “Contact Us” on the menu above and let us know!