Cadet Programs

The purpose of the Cadet Program is to inspire the country's youth to become responsible leaders and good citizens through their interest in aerospace.

The CAP cadet program is open to U.S. citizens and legal residents of the United States, its territories and possessions. Candidates for the program must be 12 to 21 years of age, or have satisfactorily completed the fifth grade. 

Through studies and other activities, cadets progress through achievements that include special activities, aerospace education, leadership programs, moral leadership and physical fitness. 

As cadets progress they earn increased rank, awards and/or certificates. Cadets may become eligible for CAP national or international special activities and compete for academic and flying scholarships. 

Upon completion of their initial training phase, cadets receive the Gen Billy Mitchell Award, which entitles them to enter the Air Force as an Airman First Class, should the cadet choose to enlist.

Senator John Braun and Lt Col David Nelson present the Carl Spaatz Award to Cadet Col. Jonathan Gizinski. 

The Spaatz award is the highest award cadets can earn in Civil Air Patrol.

Former C/Col Cadet Gizinski is now an Officer in the United States Air Force!

Cadet Rank Progression Guide

Cadet Airman Basic (C/AB)

The first rank for a cadet who has just joined the program is that of cadet basic. During this time, the main goal is to learn the cadet oath and complete the requirements to obtain the first stripe as soon as possible!

Cadet Airman (C/Amn)

The first stripe is named for John F Curry, the first national commander of CAP. 

In this rank, new cadets being to learn basic responsibilities of wearing the uniform properly, which means placing the rank insignia properly and attaching the correct patches inthe proper locations. Cadets must also strive to attend meetings weekly in order to advance training, just as the cadet oath states.

How do I finish the Curry Achievement?

Cadet Airman First Class (C/A1C)

The second promotion is the Henry (Hap) Arnold achievement. 

Expectations: In this rank, cadets begin to take followership and leadership more seriously as they begin to look forward  to the NCO ranks. Some cadets at this level may become element leaders with some basic responsibility for mentoring and teaching other junior cadets. As an element leader, a cadet should communicate weekly with the cadets in his/her element to inform them of the weekly drill events and encourage regular promotions. This is the first step in leading others.

How do I finish the Arnold Achievement?

Cadet Senior Airman (C/SrA)

The third achievement bears the name of Mary Feik, an American aviation pioneer

Expectations: In this rank, cadets are nearing the end of the followership phase, and should be proficient in most basic drill maneuvers and wear their uniform without discrepancies. As a senior airman, a cadet should be quite familiar with promotion requirements, and as an element leader, has the responsibility of teaching new cadets and ensuring that they are well-equipped to succeed in the program.

Many cadets who are approaching the NCO ranks will have attended a basic encampment and other squadron activities, expanding their knowledge of how leadership should be exercised in various situations. 

Now it's time to get ready to practice it yourself!

How do I finish the Feik Achievement?

Cadet Staff Sergeant (C/SSgt)

The Wright Brothers Award is the first milestone in the cadet program, and it is one of the most important steps in the cadet journey. 

Expectations: As the entrance to the ranks of the NCO and the privilege of being addressed as 'Sergeant,' cadets must ensure that they understand how to lead and care for others with humble confidence (although they are only just beginning to practice the concepts), how to lead drill formations with clarity (although they must continue to study the manuals), and how to encourage junior cadets to complete achievements and step into new roles (while also continuing to progress in his or her own promotions).

Staff sergeants may be requested to serve as flight sergeants at the squadron level. This means they must be in regular communication with the flight commander and first sergeant, while also maintaining accountability of the flight by regular contact with the element leaders. Leading by example means constantly encouraging and helping the element leaders to advance while also continuing regular promotions yourself.

This award signifies the transition from follower to leader, and the journey only becomes more rewarding from here!

How do I finish the Wright Brothers Award?

Cadet Technical Sergeant (C/TSgt)

The fourth achievement, named after Eddie Rickenbacker, is the next stage in the NCO journey. 

Expectations: In this rank, cadets may find themselves providing feedback and guidance to both higher-level staff and to junior cadets. Therefore, junior NCOs must be proficient in drill, matters of regulations and cadet program management,  and practical feedback for improvement. Sometimes, you might find yourself in the position of providing disciplinary feedback, which should always be done with the good of the receiver as the number one priority while moving toward the resolution of the issues.

Teaching element leader and new cadets is now a primary duty, and it is very important that NCOs of this level continue to hone communication skills. Public speaking is becoming a more important task, engaging in teaching formal classes or providing impromptu instruction during activities and events.

NCOs at this rank are looking forward to staff positions of flight sergeant and first sergeant at basic encampments and other activities and must recognize that junior cadets will respect and look up to them at all times.

How do I finish the Rickenbacker Achievement?

Cadet Master Sergeant (C/MSgt)

The fifth achievement signifies the first 'overhead' chevron, the first step in the informal 'senior NCO' ranks

Expectations: In this rank, cadets will be serving as flight sergeants and first sergeants at the squadron level, and are encouraged to accept similar challenges at events outside the local unit, such as basic encampments. National cadet special activities may also be enticing for NCOs. 

During this time, a fine balance must be learned between being 'the leader' and also being 'the mentor.' Throughout life, we face the differences between bosses and leaders, the former simply proving orders without care for people, while the latter move toward the accomplishment of a mission while influencing and collaborating with peers. Senior NCOs begin this experience of becoming true leaders, from relaxed settings at weekly meetings, to intense aviation and emergency services exercises. NCOs should seek out wise mentors to learn and follow while still striving for a spirit of strong independence.

Master sergeants will regularly be called on to mentor junior cadets and teach classes. For this reason, knowledge of the regulations becomes increasingly more critical. C/MSgts should be able to take charge of any situation and identify the proper course of action according to the drill, uniform, and program management manuals, as necessary.

How do I finish Achievement 5?

Cadet Senior Master Sergeant (C/SMSgt)

The sixth achievement, which bears the name of Jimmy Doolittle, American military general and aviation pioneer.

Expectations: As cadets approach the end of the NCO ranks, they are respected by peers, by commanding officers, and by junior cadets alike. As such, they must be constantly striving to improve in their ability to manage groups of cadets in routine settings, adapt to changing situations, and immediately take charge to accomplish the mission, no matter what happens. They must be able to communicate effectively, teach classes, and fix problems without directive (in other words, take initiative at all times).

How do I finish the Doolittle Achievement?

Cadet Chief Master Sergeant (C/CMSgt)

The seventh achievement, named after the Father of Modern Rocketry, Dr. Robert Goddard, is the final stripe in the NCO ranks, but it's not even halfway through the completion of the cadet program.

Expectations: The chief master sergeant is the absolute pinnacle of the non-commissioned officers, sometimes bearing the title of simple 'Chief' in some local circles. He or she is able to command positions of authority in NCO roles in state and national level activities, so it is more important the ever to realize the most important aspects that the rank demands.  As the chief master sergeant completes tasks, it is with the vision of soon moving to the officer ranks and entering the command phase, so mentoring and teaching junior NCOs to advance and learn is a critical priority.

How do I finish the Goddard Achievement?

Cadet Chief Master Sergeant (C/CMSgt)

The eighth achievement is named after the first person to step foot on the moon, and perhaps by design, this is also 'one giant leap' for the cadet program. After completing the requirements, NCOs find themselves, for the first time, facing an achievement that does not bear a new rank insignia.

Expectations: The 'sustained' chief maser sergeant is focused mainly on mentoring  other senior NCOs who will be stepping in to fill critical leadership roles once the officer ranks are reached. Although cadet officers still manage the weekly meetings and  build strategies, the focus is now placed on long-term development of cadets, the unit, and the progression of the staff members. As an Armstrong cadet, time should be spent in learning how this role will change, and what new responsibilities will be faced in the upcoming command phase.

As it has bee stated already, reach this rank of C/CMSgt with the full intent of progressing the ranks of cadet office, no matter how 'comfortable' you have become as an NCO.

How do I finish the Armstrong Achievement?

Cadet Second Lieutenant (C/2d Lt)

This is the second milestone award in the Civil Air Patrol cadet program., the Gen Billy Mitchell Award, signifying the entrance to the 'command' phase of the cadet program.

Expectations: As an officer, the tasks are no longer based on managing the weekly meetings and running unit activities, but rather around planning the schedules, plans, and staff assignments that will ensure successful missions.

This is an important award in the cadet program, as it not only signifies an advancement in rank, but also allows cadets to apply for officer-only activities, such as Cadet Office School (COS), Regional Cadet Leadership Schools (RCLS), and the Civic Leadership Academy (CLA). Additionally, cadets who choose to enlist in the military are provided with automatic advancements and academy applications are favored. Not only to these cadets provide a lasting impact to their own units, but they are respected by the community and the world.

How do I finish the Mitchell Award?

Cadet Program Resources:

        1. Keep track of your promotions and achievement goals

Personal Cadet Tracker

2. Make sure your uniform meets regulations 

Build your own ribbon rack!

3. Information for New Cadets

Help for New Cadets

4. Download a copy of all the newest forms

WA Wing Forms

National CAP Forms

5. Useful Manuals

CAPR 39-1 Uniform Manual 

CAPR 60-1 Cadet Program Guide

CAPP 60-31 Staff Handbook

Apply for a Promotion Board