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About Civil Air Patrol

Civil Air Patrol Motto

"Semper Vigilans" (Always Vigilant)

Mission Statement   

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

Vision Statement

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

Core Values

     Integrity, Volunteer Service, Excellence & Respect.


     The Civil Air Patrol is a federally chartered non-profit corporation that is also the Air Force auxiliary. CAP’s mission is supporting America’s communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development and promotion of air, space and cyber power through aerospace education. CAP flies a wide range of operational missions daily, including search and rescue, disaster response and supporting counterdrug operations. They also execute aerial target missions to maintain combat readiness of air defense assets, conduct special-use airspace surveys and provide orientation flights for teachers, Air Force ROTC and Air Force JROTC cadets.

     Recognized by Air Force doctrine as members of Total Force, CAP has more than 38,000 adult members and more than 28,000 cadets in over 1,500 units with an organizational pattern and rank structure similar to that of the Air Force. CAP has eight geographical regions composed of 52 wings, one for each state, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Wings are divided into groups, squadrons and flights. The CAP national headquarters is co-located with the CAP-USAF headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

     In the late 1930s, some 150,000 volunteers with a love for aviation argued for an organization to put their planes and flying skills to use in defense of their country. As a result, the Civil Air Patrol was born one week prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Thousands of volunteer members answered America's call to national service and sacrifice by accepting and performing critical wartime missions. Assigned to the War Department under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Corps, the contributions of Civil Air Patrol, including logging more than 500,000 flying hours, sinking two enemy submarines, and saving hundreds of crash victims during World War II, are well documented. After the war, a thankful nation understood that Civil Air Patrol could continue providing valuable services to both local and national agencies. On July 1, 1946, President Harry Truman signed Public Law 476 incorporating Civil Air Patrol as a benevolent, nonprofit organization. On May 26, 1948, Congress passed Public Law 557 permanently establishing Civil Air Patrol as the auxiliary of the new U.S. Air Force. Three primary mission areas were set forth at that time: aerospace education, cadet programs, and emergency services.
In December 2014, a Congressional Gold Medal was awarded collectively to the World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) in recognition of their service to the Nation.

     As a Total Force partner and Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, Civil Air Patrol is available to search for and find the lost, provide comfort in times of disaster and work to keep the homeland safe. In 2020 CAP was operating over 1,000 vehicles, 600 aircraft and 1,700 Unmanned Aeronautical Systems (drones). Its 60,000 members selflessly devote their time, energy and expertise toward the well-being of their communities, while also promoting aviation and related fields through aerospace/STEM education and helping shape future leaders through CAP’s cadet program. 

     Civil Air Patrol’s missions for America are many, and today’s adults and cadets perform their duties with the same vigilance as its founding members -- preserving CAP’s 80-year legacy of service while maintaining its commitment of service to nearly 1,500 communities nationwide.


CAP Fact Sheet



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