Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Civil Air Patrol?

Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is the United States Air Force Auxiliary, a non-profit organization with origins that date back to the 1930s.  CAP started out as a vision of several WWI pilots with a desire to mobilize America’s civilian aviators for national defense… what we now refer to as Homeland Security.

Mobile Composite Squadron (SER-AL-005)
is a Unit of the Alabama Wing of the Civil Air Patrol

Is CAP Part Of The Military?

No. A lot of people think we are military, particularly because we wear uniforms and have a similar rank structure as the Air Force. We also tend to talk military language with a lot of acronyms and military time. But we are a benevolent, non-profit, civilian-volunteer organization. Our training methods, structure and identifying uniforms are necessary because we often work alongside military and first responders; and quick integration during times of emergencies is imperative to our success.

Is There A Military Obligation?

No. There is no military obligation. However, a lot of Cadets decide they like the structure and opportunities the military offers and choose that career path. In fact, 8% of USAF Academy Cadets are former CAP Cadets. And Cadets that attain the Mitchell Award can enter enlisted military service as an E-3 rather than an E1.

What Does CAP Do?

CAP is a volunteer organization with an aviation-minded membership that includes people from all backgrounds, lifestyles, and occupations.  CAP performs three congressionally assigned key missions:  Emergency Services, which includes search and rescue (by air and ground) and disaster relief operations; Aerospace Education for youth and the general public; and Cadet Programs for youth from 12 to 20 years of age.

In addition, CAP has recently been tasked with Homeland Security and courier service missions.  CAP also performs non-auxiliary missions for various governmental and private agencies, such as local law enforcement and the American Red Cross.

What Can CAP Do For Me?

CAP is an awesome organization for youth and adults alike.  It’s a great opportunity for teens (12+) and their parents, other family members and friends to volunteer and serve together. No matter your age or background, CAP provides a fun and rewarding way to learn across a variety of topics and gain valuable skills, all in a spirit of service.

The video below gives a glimpse into what awaits you…. Come join us.


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