There’s been a lot of hearsay about the Civil Air Patrol, with some people thinking that it is a joke, while others view the CAP very positively.

In this article, we try to separate the truth from the fiction and answer any other questions you might have about the Civil Air Patrol.

In short, some people consider the Civil Air Patrol to be a joke because experiences can vary greatly between units, with some very much worthy of their bad reputations.

What is the Civil Air Patrol?

Founded on Dec. 1, 1941, the Civil Air Patrol is a volunteer organization and serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force.

The Civil Air Patrol is a non-profit corporation that is designed to mobilize the nation’s civilian aviation resources for national defense service.

The Civil Air Patrol operates search and recuse and disaster relief missions, and offers aerospace education and cadet programs.

Why Some People Consider Civil Air Patrol to Be a Joke

Some people consider the Civil Air Patrol to be a joke due to stories they’ve heard and not getting the experience they expected to receive when joining.

This includes:

  • CAP members feel that their time and talents are not needed: False expectations and a lack of good CAP membership orientation has been mentioned.
  • Poor training: CAP members have stated that there is a lack of good training, meaningful positions and tasks, and no vision.
  • Poor leaders: Egoistical and dictator style leaders with little accountability, the inability to resolve conflicts, and members not being respected or treated fairly are common complaints.
  • A lack of flying: Some members join for the promise of flying, but there is a lack of flight training.
  • A lack of activities and missions: A lack of activities and missions doesn’t put members’ training and qualifications to good use.
  • Politics and favoritism: CAP members have stated that they have seen politics and favoritism at play.

Why Civil Air Patrol Isn’t a Joke

One of the main benefits of the Civil Air Patrol is that you will learn about aviation and the military, and develop leadership and teamwork skills that will be useful in any career.

Joining the Civil Air Patrol can also be rewarding due to the nature of the organization.

However, if you’re looking to learn how to fly, the Civil Air Patrol can be considered a joke in that sense.

You probably won’t be doing much flying, if any at all, but many members are Certified Flight Instructors who are willing to provide training to other members at reduced rates.

CAP members may also have access to military aero clubs and their flight instructors, which will result in a much lower cost of learning to fly than taking the traditional routes.

Scholarships that help CAP Cadets obtain a pilot’s license are also on offer.

If you already have a private pilot license and want to work towards your CPL, you can fly with CAP CFIs in CAP aircraft to increase your ratings, which will be a lot cheaper than the traditional route.

How Many Members Does Civil Air Patrol Have?

The Civil Air Patrol currently has 56,000 members.

Do You Get Paid for Civil Air Patrol?

The Civil Air Patrol is a non-profit volunteer organization, so you are dedicating your time and expertise to help your country and community and will therefore not be paid.

Is There an Age Limit for Civil Air Patrol?

To join the Civil Air Patrol, youth members must be at least 12 years old and not yet 19 years old.

Special school squadrons accept cadets under the age of 12 as long as they are in the sixth grade.

There is no maximum age limit to join or remain as an adult member of the CAP.

Does Civil Air Patrol Look Good for College?

A good reason for joining the Civil Air Patrol is that it looks good on a college application, especially as it is one of the less often seen extracurriculars on college applications, helping applicants to stand out.

Can You Wear a Civil Air Patrol Uniform in Public?

Whether you can wear your Civil Air Patrol uniform in public is down to the discretion of the squadron commander.

Can You Quit Civil Air Patrol?

Civil Air Patrol members are under no obligation to stay and can decide to leave at any time for whatever reason.

Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.

Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.

Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.