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Professional Development

Civil Air Patrol is about citizens serving communities through a shared interest in and passion for aviation and aerospace, however, you do not have to be a pilot to participate. Civil Air Patrol Senior Membership is open to adults at least 18 years of age. There is no retirement age, and no physical requirements for joining. Like any organization, there are a multitude of tasks to be performed that are vital to meeting the demands of efficiently accomplishing our missions. Our members serve at many different levels and in many different capacities, and many times one individual will serve multiple roles within the organization in addition to their responsibilities and roles outside of CAP.


Civil Air Patrol's assets and resources may include over 530 corporate-owned aircraft and almost 4,000 member-owned aircraft, 950 ground vehicles and the most extensive communications system in the world, however, the organization's most valuable asset is its volunteers. And at over 56,000 members nationwide, you belong to a very tight knit group and have a positive way to interact with your neighbors while positively impacting your community. 

Active Seniors Members:


    • Participate in search and rescue operations and homeland security
    • Assist federal agencies when disaster strikes
    • Work with youth through cadet programs
    • Support CAP's communications network -- the most extensive in the nation
    • Assist federal agencies in the war on drugs

Many tasks within Civil Air Patrol such as Mission Aircrew and Ground Team Leaders require senior member status, and the Cadet Programs require adult supervision. These positions provide an important part of the Civil Air Patrols' mission as seen in the immediate aftermath of 911 and today with Homeland Security missions. 

One unique aspect of CAP is the training provided to help members fulfill the responsibilities of their jobs. To prepare adult members for CAP’s special missions, extensive training and education in more than twenty different specialized fields is provided. In addition, technical training is offered in related areas, such as flight operations, emergency services and communications. Training in management and executive leadership is offered as members progress in CAP’s professional development.


Some of the areas available for senior members to serve include:


Flight Instruction
Public Affairs
Search and Rescue
Disaster Relief
Information Technology
Aerospace Education

The Senior Member Professional Development Program consists of five levels and each has components of leadership training, corporate familiarization, and aerospace education, as well as advancement within chosen 'Specialty Tracks'. There are many Specialty Tracks, and they are designed to both support the organization and to provide opportunities for Senior Members to take advantage of skills they have from their private lives. Available Specialty Tracks include Logistics, Communications, Cadet Programs, Legal, Administration, Emergency Services and Finance and many more.

While it is not a requirement for membership, the professional development program is available and members are encouraged to progress within it. Progression in the Senior Member Program is however a requirement for promotion for those Senior Members that are not simply using their current or former military grades within CAP and wish to receive grade promotions in the Civil Air Patrol grade system. The grade system is based on the Air Force's Officer Grades and progresses from the grade Senior Member to General. The grades above Lieutenant Colonel are  temporary and are awarded based on certain billets being held at the Wing and National Levels.