CAP has three congressionally mandated missions.
CAP’s aerospace education program focus on two audiences: CAP members and the general public. To advance, members are required to participate in the educational program. Educators at CAP’s National Headquarters at Maxwell AFB in Alabama provide materials that reflect the highest standards of educational excellence.
The program is divided into two parts:
Civil Air Patrol’s cadet program is unique in that it uses aviation as a cornerstone. Thousands of young people from the ages of 12 through 21 are introduced to aviation through CAP’s cadet program. Cadets progress at their own pace through a 16-step program that includes aerospace education, leadership training, physical fitness, and character development. They can compete for scholarships to further their studies in fields such as engineering, science, aircraft mechanics, aerospace medicine, meteorology, as well as many others. Cadets who reach the Billy Mitchell award, earning cadet officer status, may enter the Air Force as an E3 (airman first class) rather than an E1 (airman basic). AFI36-2002 section A188.8.131.52 explains.
Each year, cadets have the opportunity to participate in special activities at the local, state, region, or national level. Many will have the opportunity to solo fly an airplane for the first time through a flight encampment or academy. Others will travel abroad through the International Air Cadet Exchange Program.
Growing from its World War II experience, the Civil Air Patrol has continued to save lives and alleviate human suffering through a myriad of emergency-services and operational missions.
Search and Rescue
CAP flies more than 85 percent of all federal inland search-and-rescue missions directed by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, FL. Outside the continental United States, CAP supports the Joint Rescue Coordination Centers in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Approximately 75-100 people are saved each year by CAP members.
CAP provides air and ground transportation and an extensive communications network. Members fly officials to remote locations and provide manpower and leadership to local, state and national disaster-relief organizations. CAP has agreements with many governments and humanitarian relief agencies including the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Usually supporting the American Red Cross, CAP often transports time-sensitive medical materials including blood and human tissue, in situations where other means of transportation are not available.
Air Force Support
CAP conducts light transport, communications support, and low-altitude route surveys in direct support of the United States Air Force (USAF). CAP also provides orientation flights for AFROTC cadets. Joint U.S. Air Force and CAP search-and-rescue exercises provide realistic training for missions.
CAP joined the war on drugs in 1986 when, pursuant to congressional authorization, CAP signed an agreement with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Customs Service offering CAP resources to help stem the flow of drugs into and within the United States.