Civil Air Patrol
slideshow image

Fact Sheet

Volunteers serving America’s communities, saving lives, and shaping futures.


In December 1941, one week before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Civil Air Patrol was founded by more than 150,000 citizens who were concerned about the defense of America’s coastline.
Under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Forces, CAP pilots flew more than 500,000 hours performing a wide variety of duties, including coastal patrol for submarine activity as well as ships and personnel in distress, target towing for the Armed Forces and courier flights for essential personnel and war materials. On July 1, 1946, President Harry Truman established CAP as a federally  chartered nonprofit corporation, and Congress passed a law on May 26, 1948, designating CAP as the Air Force auxiliary and giving CAP three primary missions — emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education.


Supporting America’s communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development, and promotion of air, space, and cyber power.


  • Is congressionally chartered and operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
  • Performs services for the federal government as the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and for states/local communities as a nonprofit organization.
  • Includes eight geographic regions consisting of 52 wings (the 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia).
  • Consists of 1,500 squadrons and 60,000 volunteer youth and adult members nationwide.
  • Has more than 8,800 aircrew members and 30,000 emergency responders trained to FEMA standards.
  • Offers opportunities for members to serve communities, participate in leadership development training and acquire new skills that benefit personal and professional growth.
  • Contributed $158 million in man-hours in 2014 by serving the disaster relief and emergency service needs of communities, states and the U.S.
  • Operates one of the largest fleets of single-engine piston aircraft in the world, with 550 currently in the fleet.
  • Flies more than 91,000 hours annually.
  • Maintains a fleet of more than 950 emergency service vehicles for training and mission support.
  • Provides 491 chaplains who minister to youth and adult members and help comfort survivors and victims of disasters.

Emergency Services

  • Conducts 90 percent of inland search and rescue in the U.S. as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and other agencies.
  • Coordinates Air Force-assigned missions through CAP National Operations Center at Maxwell AFB, Ala., at a cost of $120-$160 per flying hour.
  • Performs aerial reconnaissance for homeland security.
  • Saves an average of 71 lives per year.
  • Provides disaster-relief support to local, state and national agencies.
  • Transports time-sensitive medical materials, blood products and body tissues when commercial resources are unavailable.
  • Provides air intercept training, impact assessment, light transport, communications support and low-level route surveys for the Air Force.
  • Assists federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in the war on drugs.
  • Maintains an extensive VHF and HF communications network.

Cadet Programs

  • Attracts more than 25,000 members ages 12 through 20.
  • Educates youth in four main program areas — leadership, aerospace, fitness and character development.
  • Enriches school curricula through after-school programs.
  • Offers orientation flights in powered and glider aircraft, as well as flight training scholarships.
  • About 10 percent of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s new classes are filled with former CAP cadets.
  • Cadets who have earned the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award enlist in the Air Force, U.S. Army and U.S. Coast Guard at a higher pay grade.
  • Provides activities and competitions for cadets at the local, state, regional and national levels.
  • Participates in the International Air Cadet Exchange program.
  • Awards college scholarships in several disciplines.
  • Makes opportunities for community involvement available through color guard/drill team and emergency service missions.
  • Explores careers in aviation, space and technology through dozens of summer activities.
  • Challenges youth to be ambassadors for a drug-free lifestyle.

Aerospace Education

  • Educates adult and cadet members and the community on the importance of aerospace.
  • Provides support for educational conferences and workshops nationwide.
  • Develops, publishes and distributes national academic standards-based STEM aerospace education curricula for kindergarten through college classrooms.
  • Offers grant, college credit and scholarship opportunities for adult, cadet and teacher members.
  • Provides educators with free educational programs, products and services, including airplane orientation flights.
  • Posts comprehensive aerospace education resources online.
© 2022 Squadron 201. All rights reserved.