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Getting Started

Getting Started for Cadets (age 12 to 18)

Thank you for your interest in the Civil Air Patrol cadet program.

CAP is the official auxiliary of the USAF, and we have strong connections to the Air Force.  The cadet program exists to provide a high quality learning experience for the youth of our nation.  Within the cadet program, we do four primary things:
  • Aerospace education (airplanes, aerodynamics, space, rocketry, flight sciences)
  • Physical training (push-ups, sit-ups, running) and military bearing & customs
  • Leadership training (how to follow and lead)
  • Moral leadership (ethics, integrity, character)
Cadet activities include outings, glider flying, powered flight, search & rescue exercises, camping, hiking, tours of military facilities and aircraft, summer encampments, color guard, and so forth.  At summer encampment, our cadets lived in a military barracks for a week, ate in the mess hall with active duty troops, and rode in both a Blackhawk helicopter and a C-130.  While aerospace education is a major component of the program, there is plenty of military content too.

Cadet dues are $28 for the first year, and renewal at $28 per year with National and $15/year with the squadron. You can also expect to spend $30-$60 initially on uniforms and insignia. Cadet uniforms are BDU’s (camouflage) and Air Force style blues. Cadets must be at least 12 years old and less than 18 years old as of their join date.

Cadet rank structure is based on USAF progressions from “airman basic” (E-1) through “cadet colonel” (O-6).  Rank is earned, and each advancement requires passing scores on a PT test, written tests on aerospace topics and leadership, and a drill (marching) test.  Reaching the pinnacle of the cadet program, Cadet Colonel, is a rare and significant accomplishment that is achieved only by a few truly outstanding cadets nationwide (similar to becoming an Eagle Scout).

As for a military career, CAP can give you several advantages.  By completing certain cadet achievements you can enter the Air Force at a pay grade of E-3 immediately upon enlistment.  Other services also offer immediate E-2 or E-3 pay grade upon enlistment.  Approximately one-sixth of the freshman class at the Air Force Academy each year are former CAP cadets.

The CAP cadet program is similar in mission to JROTC in the local high schools, and there is some overlap between Air Force JROTC and CAP.  CAP would give you a good head start for JROTC, until you get to high school.  (East High does Army JROTC, West High does Air Force JROTC, and Service High does Navy JROTC).  Beyond high school, UAA’s Merrill Field campus now has a college level Air Force ROTC program leading to a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the USAF.

I invite you and your parents to visit our unit and observe a few meetings, at no charge or obligation.  We meet every Tuesday night at 1815 hours (6:15 pm) at our Squadron building at Merrill Field. Visit our Contact page for our address and driving directions.  Feel free to contact us if you have additional questions.

Andrew Gecsedi, 2d Lt
Deputy Commander for Cadets
Polaris Composite Squadron AK-015
Decided to join?

Please fill out, review, and submit:

Polaris specific packet (includes basic info)