The Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program
Since 1 October 1942

Training

Cadets were taught required subjects in the classroom until the cadet program became "self-study" in 1968.


Recommended reading: early manuals, promotion, and table of organization.



1942-49: "Do your part to win the war!"


The CAP Cadet program rapidly formed under war-time urgency and intense national patriotism - so fast, in fact, there wasn't time to publish a training manual.

CAP was first organized under the "Office of Civilian Defense."

Before the first training manual was released, the ideal situation was for cadets to take the same training as the Senior Members, with the same standards and testing.  Qualified cadets could be used as instructors.  Very early cadet training focused on military drill, interior guard, and panel signalling, in addition to topics in aviation. 

The first training manual, thePreflight Study Manual, was released August 1944.  It can be found under the manuals tab.  It was also known as the "Blue Book."  The curriculum included first aid, Morse code, and physical fitness.

The objective was to prepare young men and women for service during wartime - military or civilian.  Cadets joined CAPC for several reasons.  Some because they wanted to secure a job in aviation.  Others wanted to "do their part to win the war" in any way possible.  Many cadets were promoted straight out of basic training, or selected for officer training, due to their CAPC training.  The Preflight Study Manual stated the "present purpose of the CAPC program is to extend pre-aviation training to young men and women of high school age who are planning on pursuing aviation careers of one kind or another.  In carrying out this purpose, CAPC aims to give you rock-bottom knowledge upon which you may build more specialized learning."  The CAP cadet program also prepared young men and women to become adult volunteers in CAP.  Over time, CAPC filled a variety of needs. 

CAP became the official Army Air Force Auxiliary on March 29th, 1943, and the AAF looked at the cadet program with new interest.


When the cadet program was established the war in Europe was being fought in the air, with high casualties.  It was a challenge for the AAF to find enough enlistees who could qualify for air crew positions.  The qualification standards were even lowered to ensure the quotas were filled.  Failure in training possibly meant the young man would end up fighting the war on the ground with a rifle.  It also cost the government an estimated $25,000 per washout.  Consequently, the AAF developed the Air Corps Enlisted Reserve (ACER) to improve the graduation rates of pilot, navigator, bombardier, and air gunner schools.  ACER was a delayed entry program for aviation specialties that allowed seventeen year olds who met the requirements for the AAF to enlist.  On their eighteenth birthday they were called to active duty.  While waiting for active duty the ACER enlistees were given preflight classes and training through CAP to ease their transition, improve graduation rates for the aviation specialties, and put young men into their specialty of choice.  CAP cadets who were also ACER enlistees were given priority for training, promotions, and special insignia.  In some regions CAP senior members administered the psychological screening for the ACER enlistees.  CAPC provided ACER with so many enlistees that the ACER program was canceled in 1944.

The AAF recognized other benefits to the CAPC program:

- In a world where aviation technology was growing exponentially, careers in the "air age" would require more math, science, and aviation education.  CAPC required cadets to take courses in physics, chemistry, and math.
- Aviation proponents also knew "air-minded youth" were the future advocates and leaders for aviation progress and funding.

Training and grade were not linked.




 

Seattle cadets using the portable coordination trainer, 13 July 1944.
Army Signal Corps photo.

1949-57: "Prepare for the air age."

CAP introduced a new cadet program in 1949.  It focused heavily on aviation topics and was considered a program that cadets could complete.   CAP published a three manual series for training and regulation.  Book I was the Civil Air Patrol Manual.  Book II was the Aviation Study Manual and was the basis for cadet training.  Book III was the instructor guide for Book II.  The series was commonly called the "Brown Books" due to their plain brown covers.

The purpose of the Cadet Program according to the 1949 Civil Air Patrol Manual was to produce "a reservoir of preflight trained young men available for the Air Force in the event of war."  The manual covered a large variety of topics from missions, military administration, and history.

This program introduced the Certificate of Proficiency (COP).  Cadets could earn this by taking a National Exam (one exam until 1957) and by attending an encampment.  See the topic COP for more.

The Aviation Study Manual was the primary textbook for cadets, and covered topics from aerodynamics to weather.  The Aviation Study Manual was also used in high schools as a textbook for aviation classes and was the forerunner for Air Force Junior ROTC texts.  The lengthy test for the Certificate of Proficiency was based off this manual. 

Cadet training was based on 80 hours per year of training, two hours per meeting for 40 meetings, for three years (ages 15-18).  It had three phases described this way:

NOTE:  Based on CAP publications from before 1949 I believe the word "phase" carried a different meaning.  In context, it seems that "phase" meant aspect, facet, or component rather than what we currently think of as a phase. (Phase meaning one training period, when completed, is followed by another.)  The three phases as presented in 1949 are analogous to the modern day pillars of the cadet program.

- Phase I (academic) constitutes the minimum requirements of the CAP Cadet Program, and is based upon CAP Book II, the Aviation Study Manual.  Material in phase one is divided into three series:

        1) Basic - red
        2) Secondary - white
        3) Advanced - blue

-  Phase II (activities) embraces the function, missions, and the many related activities of CAP in which CAP cadets may participate.  In addition to periodic drills, which are required, cadets are encouraged to take part in all senior activities except those that involve flying under hazardous conditions.

-  Phase III (encampments) is one of the most important phases of the program.  Attendance at one encampment is required for cadets in the advanced course...

The cadet program was modified and clarified in 1954, and the word "phase" is used in the current sense:

The basic cadet program emphasizes five separate, although related, areas of cadet endeavor.  They include "Leadership, Drill, and Exercise of Command," "Aviation Education," "Orientation [to] CAP and the Air Force," "Flight Orientation," and "Encampments at Air Force Bases."


Phase one,  "Cadet Indoctrination Activities," gives a new member, or prospective member, information about his organization, its relationship with the USAF, and enough drill to properly assemble and march with a group of cadets.  The time spent in this phase is flexible and may vary from one meeting night to twelve weeks. 

Phase two, the main portion of the cadet program is accomplished in phase two, "Cadet Training Activities."  Over an 18 month period a cadet receives instruction and experience in all of the five areas of endeavor listed...  It is important to understand that the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program is not attempting to train qualified pilots, engineers... etc.  The aviation education portions is designed to give a cadet "general" aviation knowledge plus an introductory knowledge to what are commonly termed "Preflight Subjects."

Phase three, "Cadet Elective Training Activities," is an individual project. A cadet may discover an interest in communications as a result of experiences in phase two.  A communications study course has been developed to help this cadet.  Phase three is primarily an area of activity for those cadets  who have completed phase one and two.  Suitable awards are under study and will be announced in official publications.

Training and grade were not linked.


 

1957-64: "Educate for the aerospace age - and do it better than the Soviet Union."

The 1957 program was based on multiple achievements instead of large blocks of training.  Each achievement had specific requirements.  The reason for the change was explained in the 1956 Annual Report to Congress:  "While a three phase program existed prior to 1956 for CAP's teenage cadets, it left the establishment of criteria for advancement largely up to local unit commanders.  The result was a program almost totally without standardization.  Only the criteria for the award of the Certificate of Proficiency were standardized - completion of the National Examination and attendance at one summer encampment at an Air Force base." 

In 1957 the Aviation Study Manual was replaced by a manual series called the Aviation Education Courses.   Cadets took one course of their choice per achievement.  See the
early manuals

CAP introduced the Cadet Log Book.  This was the military education manual and informal personal record.  It covered topics including promotion, customs & courtesies, and drill & ceremonies.  In 1957 it was a single volume.  It was divided into two parts in 1959, log book and manual.  Another single volume edition was published in 1961.  The 1961 version did not have a log book.  Cadets were advised to consult CAPF 66, CAP Cadet Master Record.

While training continued to focus on aviation, cadets were now required to attend classes on moral leadership, etiquette, and citizenship for each achievement.

The program was divided into three phases:

Phase one was the primary phase.  Completion resulted in the grade of C/Basic. 

Phase two was the basic phase with six achievements.  Completion of achievements made cadets eligible for promotion, one stripe per achievement, C/Third Class to C/MSgt.  It ended with completion of the COP. 

Phase three was the advanced phase with three achievements.  Completion of achievement seven made cadets eligible for promotion to any officer grade.

For the first time training and grade were linked.

Instead of hinging on one test, the COP was reached by completing multiple achievements and one encampment.





Cadets had to build three model aircraft to complete achievement one of Phase II.





1964: "Develop dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders."
 
The modern cadet program was introduced.  It is sometimes called the Jack Sorenson program, after the man who developed the program at NHQ.  The goal was "to develop dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders."  The training program was based on four pillars: aerospace education, leadership laboratory, moral leadership, and physical fitness.  The promotion topic covers this program extensively in a four part series.

Cadets progressed through four phases of increasing responsibility:

Phase One - Orientation
Phase Two - Aerospace Education
Phase Three - CAP Leadership
Phase Four - Aerospace Leadership

Most of the 15 achievements were named for prominent figures in aviation history.  The focus of aerospace education for each achievement was significant to the person it was named after:

Curry - Introduction to Aerospace
Wright Brothers -
Aircraft in Flight
Rickenbacker -
Power for Aircraft
Doolittle -
Airports, Airways, and Electronics
Lindbergh -
Navigation and Weather
Arnold -
The Problems of Aerospace Power
Goddard -
The Dawning Space Age

Milestones:

Mitchell - initially the Mitchell award test was from Operation Countdown, the moral leadership manual.  It was made a comprehensive Aerospace Education test in 1970.
Earhart - criteria for the Earhart varied from 1964-70.  Recommended reading is the promotion topic.
Spaatz - completion of the cadet program, and comprehensive tests based on all material presented.
Falcon - cadets had to achieve the Spaatz and either go on to become a senior member, or complete two years at a US military academy or in ROTC.  This award was discontinued in 1979.

This program had 15 achievements, in four phases, until 1998.

This generation saw an explosion in special activities.  This program reached beyond aviation into other aspects of military and civilian service.

Cadets also had a library of manuals: leadership lab, cadet handbook, Operation Countdown (moral leadership), physical fitness, and the aviation courses.  In 1975 CAP published the first single voume aerospace education manual.  The leadership lab became two volumes in 1975.



The Eaker Award, 1995:

The Eaker Award was established December, 1995 to recognize cadets who completed Phase IV of the cadet program.  It was not recognized as a milestone until 1998.  Cadets were only awarded a numbered certificate, until the ribbon was introduced in 1998.

Prior to this award, cadets who completed Phase IV placed a silver triangular clasp to their Earhart ribbon.

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