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Cadet Membership

Cadet Membership

While there are many youth-oriented programs in America today, CAP’s cadet program is unique in that it uses aviation as a cornerstone. Thousands of young people from 12 years through age 21 are introduced to aviation through CAP’s cadet program. The program allows young people to progress at their own pace through a 16-step program including aerospace education, leadership training, physical fitness and character development. Cadets compete for academic and aviation scholarships to further their studies in fields such as engineering, science, aircraft mechanics, aerospace medicine, meteorology, as well as many others. Those cadets who earn cadet officer status may enter the Air Force as an E3 (airman first class) rather than an E1 (airman basic).

While focusing on CAP's Core Values of integrity, volunteer service, excellence, and respect, cadets learn valuable leadership skills that they can use throughout the rest of their lives. Each year, cadets have the opportunity  to participate in special activities at the local, state, regional or national level.  Many cadets will have the opportunity to solo fly an airplane for the first time through a flight encampment or academy.  Others will enjoy traveling abroad through the International Air Cadet Exchange Program. Still others assist at major air shows throughout the nation.


Program Structure

Cadets join as Cadet Airman Basics (C/AB) and progress through the program by taking leadership and aerospace exams, physical fitness tests, attending activities, as well as serving in ever progressing leadership positions. Cadets work towards completion of the five milestone awards in the cadet program named after the Wright Brothers, General Billy Mitchell, Amelia Earhart, General Ira C. Eaker, and General Carl A. Spaatz.

To fulfill its goal of developing young people into responsible citizens and aerospace leaders, the Cadet Program is developed around four educational program elements:  Leadership, Character Development, Aerospace Education, Physical Fitness.  As cadets participate in these four elements, they advance through a series of achievements, earning honors and increased responsibilities along the way. 

Leadership.  CAP introduces cadets to Air Force perspectives on leadership through classroom instruction, mentoring, and hands-on learning. First, cadets learn to follow, but as they progress, they learn how to lead small teams, manage projects, think independently, and develop leadership skills they can use in adult life.

Aerospace.  CAP inspires in youth a love of aviation, space, and technology. Cadets study the fundamentals of aerospace science in the classroom and experience flight first-hand in CAP aircraft. Cyber topics important to the  national defense represent a new frontier. Summer activities allow cadets to explore aerospace-related careers.

Fitness.  CAP encourages cadets to develop a lifelong habit of regular exercise. The Cadet Program promotes fitness
through calisthenics, hiking, rappelling, obstacle courses, competitions, and other vigorous activities. A comprehensive fitness test based on age, gender, and cadet rank challenges cadets

Character.  CAP challenges cadets to live their Core Values. Through character forums, cadets discuss ethical issues relevant to teens. Chaplains often lead the discussions, but the forums are not religious meetings. CAP also encourages cadets to promote a drug free ethic in their schools and communities



Activities make the cadet program the most interesting and exciting youth program available in the country today. They are held at the local (squadron or group), wing (state level), region and national levels. These activities range from simple overnight Field Training Exercises and weekend-long Cadet Training Schools to week-long Cadet Encampments and National Cadet Special Activities. During their cadet career, cadets will have the opportunity to participate in leadership positions, flight training, emergency services, communications and more. Cadets that reach the grade of Cadet Captain (C/Capt) may apply for International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE) and serve as an overseas ambassador of the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program to one of several foreign countries.

While the cadet program overall has elements of leadership, aerospace education, flight, and camaraderie, there are unique opportunities as well such as:

Indiana Wing Summer Encampment
In July, the Indiana Wing hosts the Indiana Wing Summer Encampment at Camp Atterbury. During encampment cadets develop leadership skills, learn about aerospace, commit to a habit of exercise, and have fun. In the past, cadets have rappelled from a rappelling tower, learned teamwork at the Leadership Reaction Course, drilled, launch rockets, and had flights in Civil Air Patrol aircraft. If a cadet would like engage in an encampment in another state that is possible too. For cadets interested in entering the U.S. Air Force, encampment is a pre-requisite for Civil Air Patrol's Mitchell award. Mitchell award recipients are eligible to enlist in the U.S. Air Force at the grade of E-3.

Powered Orientation Flights
Cadets under eighteen years old can have five front-seat rides in Civil Air Patrol aircraft. While in the front seat and at a safe altitude, they are allowed to fly the plane. Each front seat flight builds upon their knowledge of the aircraft and its systems. They learn the science of flight, for instance, the four forces of flight, basic aerodynamics, stability and control, and basic physics. They also learn the technical aspects of flight, for instance, coordinated turns, navigation, instrumentation, and the use of checklists. They are allowed as many back-seat flights as time and availability permits. 

Glider Orientation Flights
Similar to powered orientation flights, cadets under the age of eighteen can have five glider orientation flights. For Indiana Wing, these flights typically occur at Bult Field in Illinois. 

CyberPatriot is a National Youth Cyber Education Program, sponsored by the Air Force Association, to educate the next generation of patriotic cyber defenders of our nation's security and infrastructure. For CAP teams, there is no fee for the program and represents a positive, challenging way to learn about cybersecurity. 

In the program, each team defends a computer network against a virtual cyber attack. Several rounds of competition culminate in a national competition for each March in Maryland. 

Johnson Flight Academy
Johnson Flight Academy is a two week National Cadet Special Activity that focuses on flight training for cadets. During the two week program in June, cadets receive glider, balloon, or powered flight instruction. This program is a competitive academy coordinated by the Civil Air Patrol Great Lakes Region out of the airport at Mattoon, Illinois. Although Johnson Flight Academy is a formal NCSA flight academy, there are other options for cadets to obtain flight training. 

Emergency Services
Indiana Wing cadets consistently perform well, and contribute to, the Wing's emergency services role. While cadets are not allowed to fly with aircrews during emergency services missions, they are allowed to participate in most other roles. They commonly participate in ground teams and communications. Their participation assists the community and their involvement is a key component of mission success. 

National Emergency Services Academy
After Indiana Wing encampment, national Civil Air Patrol begins its annual two-week National Emergency Services Academy (NESA). NESA provides both senior members and cadets opportunities to gain experience, both academic and in-field, in CAP's emergency services role. CAP members can sign up for one-week classes in incident command, ground teams, aircrews, UAVs, water survival, and more. For more information, including which classes are offered to cadets, visit the NESA website. NESA is held at Camp Atterbury in Indiana and brings in CAP members from all over the country. 

Legislative Days
Indiana Wing Civil Air Patrol has two Legislative Days in the winter: one for Indiana Paging Day in Indianapolis and another in Washington, D.C. The trip to Washington, D.C. is competitive and lasts for approximately a week with drive time. 

National Cadet Special Activities
And many other National Cadet Special Activities (NCSAs) ranging from U.S. Air Force Pararescue, U.S. Air Force Space Command, Cyber Defense training, National Blue Beret. For a list of NCSA's, visit the NCSA website. NCSAs may have specific requirements. Those requirements can be found on the NCSA website.  

Local Structure - Lafayette Composite Squadron

Prospective cadet members are encouraged to attend a week meeting and explore the offerings of CAP. The Lafayette Composite Squadron holds a recruiting open house at least annually to invite families to learn about the program and have their questions answered. Following the open house interested youth will attend meetings as a Cadet Basic. This training typically takes 5 weeks to complete and is where the foundation of their cadet careers will be laid. This includes drill and ceremonies, uniform wear, CAP history, customs and courtesies, and the chain of command. Upon completion of the program and the requirements for the Curry Achievement, Basic Cadets will graduate and be promoted to the grade of Cadet Airman. Following graduation from BTC, cadets are assigned to 1 of our 3 main flights.

The Fall 2021 Open House is scheduled for Sunday December 4, from 4p-7p. Sign up here for additional information. 



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