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This glossary is intended to provide information to the public as well as to a new (or even not-so-new) member. It is not intended to provide definitions for all things Civil Air Patrol, but rather for those terms that are frequently asked about or that come up in conversation when discussing the Civil Air Patrol. If you feel a term not listed here should be, please contact one of our leaders and ask to have the term included.

– A– B– C– D– E– F– G– H– I– J– K– L– M– N– O– P– Q– R– S– T– U– V– W– X– Y– Z


Aerospace Education

One of the three missions of Civil Air Patrol, aerospace education offers the public as well as members insight and tools to learn more about the history as well as advances being made in aerospace. CAP offers this in several ways, including standards-based educational products and the sponsorship of NCASE, the National Conference on Aviation and Space Education. For more information, visit the CAP Headquarters aerospace education web page.




A Civil Air Patrol member between the ages of 12 and 21. At age 18, a cadet can choose between remaining in the cadet program or become a senior member. Persons 18 and over cannot join the program as cadets. A cadet participates primarily in the Cadet Program. However, a cadet can also receive training and participate in various levels of emergency services.

Cadet First Promotion

The first promotion is Curry Achievement.  Specific information about it can be found by clicking this link:  First Promotion New Cadets who receive the Curry Achievement are promoted to the grade of Cadet Airman and become eligible to participate in CAP activities and also become eligible for benefits such as the Curry Blues Voucher

Cadet Program

One of the three missions of Civil Air Patrol, the Cadet Program provides the youth of our nation with a quality program that enhances their leadership skills through an interest in aviation and simultaneously provides service to the United States Air Force and the local community.

The program accomplishes this through five elements: leadership, moral leadership, aerospace education, physical fitness, and activities.

In the leadership element, the cadets develop self-discipline, teamwork, and confidence through the study and practice of leadership in an Air Force environment. Though the moral leadership element, cadets develop a personal ethical foundation and an understanding of the moral issues of our time through discussions and debate. Cadets develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for understanding aerospace principles and the total impact of aerospace power upon society in the aerospace education element. Through the physical fitness element, the cadets become physically fit and develop a lifelong habit of regular exercise. And finally, in the activities element, they participate in a variety of special activities and programs.

– Ref. CAPR 52-16 Cadet Program Management

Cadet Squadron

squadron comprised primarily of cadet members with a minimum of three senior members to meet supervisory, administrative, and training requirements in the conduct of cadet programs.

– Ref. CAPR 20-1 Organization of Civil Air Patrol

Composite Squadron

squadron comprised of both senior and cadet members conducting both the senior program and cadet program.

– Ref. CAPR 20-1 Organization of Civil Air Patrol


Civil Air Patrol Form– a tool used for the collection, recording, and/or extraction of information whereby a predetermined set of data fields have been established and defined to meet a definitive CAP purpose or objective.

– Ref. CAPR 5-4 Publications Forms Management


Civil Air Patrol Manual– a publication announcing procedures and guidance for performing standard tasks and usually containing examples.

– Ref. CAPR 5-4 Publications Forms Management


Civil Air Patrol Pamphlet– a non-directive, informative, “how-to” type publication that may include suggested methods and techniques for implementing CAP policies.

– Ref. CAPR 5-4 Publications Forms Management


Civil Air Patrol Regulation– a publication which announces policies, directs action and prescribes standards.

– Ref. CAPR 5-4 Publications Forms Management


Cadet Protection Policy Training is a required element of the Level One orientation course. It helps ensure a healthy and safe environment for cadets while providing the foundation for a professional climate and the highest standards of behavior of all our members in leadership positions. The training takes about two hours and is conducted online.

– Ref. CAPR 52-10 CAP Cadet Protection Policy



Emergency Services

Probably one of the most well-known of the three missions of the Civil Air Patrol. The emergency services performed by the Civil Air Patrol encompass search and rescue (where on average 100 lives per year are saved), airborne reconnaissance for homeland security, disaster relief and damage assessment and transport for time-sensitive medical materials.

Members wishing to participate in emergency services can receive training in a number of specialties including airborne search, ground search, communications, public affairs, managing a mission, and more. There are 27 specialty qualifications. Training occurs at both the local and national level utilizing a comprehensive and standardized curriculum for each specialty. There are regular training exercises throughout the year. Experienced members also participate in these exercises to hone their skills.

And then there are the actual missions. Civil Air Patrol was involved in the early damage assessment of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, providing real-time imagery of the site. We were heavily involved in the disaster relief activites resulting from Hurricane Katrina. We assisted Colorado and Kansas law enforcement agencies locate stranded motorists in 2006 after a major snow storm shutdown interstates in those states. In 2007, Civil Air Patrol searched over 20,000 square miles for aviator and entrepreneur Steve Fossett and preformed reconnaissance flights over the California wildfires. And as usually, every year, we conduct hundreds of searches for inadvertently activated emergency locator beacons on both aircraft and water vessels as well as numerous search missions where someone is actually missing.

– Ref. CAPR 60-3 CAP Emergency Services Training and Operational Missions


Form 5

Form 5 is a colloquial term used by CAP members referring to a checkride taken to gain privileges to fly as pilot-in-command of CAP aircraft. A CAPF5 is the form used by the CAP Check Pilot to document the results of the checkride. There is also a CAP Form 5 Annual Examination (taken online) and an aircraft questionnaire for the particular aircraft being flown on the checkride. The CAP Form 5 Checkride is required annually.

– Ref. CAPR 60-1 CAP Flight Management

Form 91

Like the Form 5 this is a colloquial term that refers to a checkride for a mission pilot – a pilot trained and qualified to fly search missions. The CAP Form 91 Checkride is required biennially.

– Ref. CAPR 60-1 CAP Flight Management



An organizational entity formed when the wing geographical area or the number of units in the wing is too large to permit the wing commander to exercise effective supervision directly over squadrons and flights. A group will usually have a minimum of five squadrons placed under its control. The Col. Shorty Powers Composite Squadron is in Group 2 of the Illinois Wing.

– Ref. CAPR 20-1 Organization of Civil Air Patrol






Level One

Level I is an orientation to the Civil Air Patrol. It is the only level that is required to be completed by a new member prior to participating in any other CAP activity, prior to wearing a Civil Air Patrol uniform and prior to being awarded a grade (rank). It includes the CAP Foundations Course,  Cadet Protection Program Training (CPPT), and Operational Security Awareness Training (OPSEC). All these courses can be completed online. Once satisfactorily completed, the member earns the membership ribbon which can be worn on the USAF-style service uniform.

– Ref. CAPR 50-17 CAP Senior Member Professional Development Program




OPSEC Training

A part of Level One training, Operational Security Awareness Training instructs members how to handle sensitive information concerning our missions, our capabilities and our partner agencies. At the end of the training, the member is asked to agree to protect sensitive information via a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). The agreement is necessary before the member can access sensitive information or participate on certain missions.

– Ref. Interim Change Letter 5 Jun 2006 – Online Operations Security (OPSEC) Training


Officially termed Cadet Orientation Flights, O-Rides are designed to introduce our cadets to general aviation through hands-on orientation flights in single aircraft and gliders. The program is limited to cadets under 18 years of age. The program is voluntary and primarily motivational and should stimulate an interest in general aviation and aerospace activities.

– Ref. CAPP 52-7 Cadet Orientation Flight Syllabus





The United States is divided geographically into areas known as regions. Their composite boundaries include all the CAP wings. These regions are not constituted as separate legal entities. Each region is known by the geographical locale of the United States it encompasses. The eight regions are Northeast, Middle East, Great Lakes, Southeast, North Central, Southwest, Rocky Mountain and Pacific. The Col. Shorty Powers Composite Squadron is in the Great Lakes Region.

– Ref. CAPR 20-1 Organization of Civil Air Patrol


Senior Member

A Senior Member, also now known as an Officer, is a member adult 18 years of age and older. Senior members can be involved in all aspects of Civil Air Patrol. The majority are involved in either Emergency Services or in working in the Cadet Program. Many are also engaged in the Aerospace Education Program.

Senior Member Professional Development Program

To accomplish its three missions of Emergency ServicesAerospace Education, and Cadet Programs, the Civil Air Patrol requires an informed, active senior membership trained in leadership, management and functional tasks. This program prepares members to server their units, their communities and their nation.

The program is divided into 5 levels.  Level I is an orientation to Civil Air Patrol and provides basic information about CAP. In Level II – Technical Training, a member receives basic training in leadership and management. Level III – Management are for those members who wish to serve in CAP management positions. Members desiring to become leaders in CAP work to complete Level IV – Command and Staff. Wing and region commanders are required to complete this level. Level V – Executive concentrates on advanced management and leadership subjects.

– Ref. CAPR 50-17 CAP Senior Member Professional Development Program

Senior Squadron

squadron comprised entirely of senior members.

– Ref. CAPR 20-1 Organization of Civil Air Patrol


The squadron is the community-level organization of CAP. There must be a minimum of 15 members in the unit, three of whom must be senior members.

– Ref. CAPR 20-1 Organization of Civil Air Patrol






There are 52 wings in CAP, one for each state, the District of Columbia (which embraces the Washington, D.C. area), and Puerto Rico. A wing is comprised of the wing headquarters and all units within its geographical boundaries unless otherwise prescribed. The Col. Shorty Powers Composite Squadron is in the Illinois Wing.

– Ref. CAPR 20-1 Organization of Civil Air Patrol




Last reviewed on: 31 MAY 20

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