CAP Cadet History Project

CAP was created December 1st, 1941. The Cadet Program was added October 1st, 1942.

The first official squadron was in Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis Cadet Squadron 711-4.

In the first six months 20,000 cadets joined.

Cadets had to be 15-18 years old, and in the last two years of high school.


Cadet training focused on preparing students to serve a nation at war.  All cadets, male and female, were viewed as a war resource.  At first, cadets trained with senior members in a variety of subjects including airfield security, Army laws, and first aid.  Eventually, a cadet specific curriculum was developed which included "preflight skills."  The Army Air Force used CAP to train young men before they enlisted to increase the graduation rates of aviation specialties including navigator, pilot, and bombardier.

Cadets also participated in CAP's various Emergency Services missions.


The cadet program ramped up so fast that a cadet specific training manual wasn't available until August 1944.  The cadet training manual was the Preflight Study Manual, also known as the "Blue Book."


Cadets wore the US Army khaki "shirt sleeve" uniform (no coat) with full-sized chevrons and distinctive cadet insignia.


Initially, the highest grade a cadet could hold was First Sergeant.  Cadets used Army titles: Private, Private First Class, Corporal, etc.

Three officer grades were authorized in 1945, C/2nd Lt through C/Capt.  Early cadet officers wore cloth horizontal bars on their sleeves.  Much more is under the grade insignia topic.

Cadets were promoted based on demonstrated leadership ability.  To prevent "too many chiefs" cadet promotions were restricted according to the table of organization.  

Promotion/advancement in grade came down to this: no position, no promotion.  (1942-64)

Until 1964 a cadet's grade indicated the position they held in their unit.

Promotions were not standardized, and were made by local commanders.

Training for war was the objective.  Cadet advancement was a fringe benefit for a select few.

Historical Highlights:

CAP was made the Army Air Force Auxiliary April 29th, 1943.  CAP became the USAF Auxiliary May 26th, 1948.

The first International Air Cadet Exchange was held between the US and Canada in the summer of 1948.

The first National and International Drill Competitions were also held in the summer of 1948.

C/1st Sgt Katherine Tigges, Commander of the St Paul Girl Cadets, listens to instruction from her senior member supervisor, Warrant Officer Genevieve Cook, 1945.

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