A History of Meeting
Delivering what the country
requires is a familiar function for
CAP Cadet Programs. In fact,
cadet component was born
from the desire of young Americans
to help their country during World
Too young or the wrong gender to serve in the military,
20,000 of them flocked to join CAP
as cadets. They drilled for emergencies and learned about flying, flooding the U.S. Army Air Forces with
an oversupply of aviation candidates
by the spring of 1943.
Dr. Harlan Petersburg belonged
to one of the first CAP cadet
squadrons, which evolved from a group of 10 boys in a science class at Central High School in Minneapolis. Within
weeks, the group had swelled to 41 members, including five
girls, and when CAP launched its Cadet Programs, this
became one of the first CAP cadet squadrons.
Members received lessons in military drill, guard duty,
signaling and concealment, with frequent trips to a nearby
airport to learn how it operated. Enthusiasm among the
cadets was high. With the foregone conclusion the male
members would be serving in the military, the cadet program gave them a leg up on what to expect.
reported Petersburg, just wait to
get into the U.S. Army Air Forces we were confident
they win the war without
During the Cold War years, cadet ranks more than
doubled, aided by several expansions to the age requirements. But by the early 1970s, while the U.S. was still
invested in the Vietnam War, many young people had
latched onto social and cultural changes that led to a decline
in CAP cadet membership. Again, however, CAP leadership
responded, leading to a revitalization of the cadet program
with hands-on activities, aircraft orientation rides and
opportunities to train and work with senior CAP members.
Support of the U.S. Air Force
While Cadet Programs does not target its cadets for military service, many use CAP as a springboard to a military
The opportunity to fly, as illustrated in this vintage photo, has
always been a major reason youth are attracted to CAP.
For the past seven years, CAP has been a leader in the Air
Force CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense
Competition. CAP brought home first-place honors in the All
Services Division in 2011 and 2012 and, above, in the Middle
School Division in 2014.
career. CAP reportedly took a very active role in recruiting
for the U.S. Air Force very first class of 1959.
More recently, according to statistics from the academy,
CAP cadets account for 10, 11 and percent of its classes of
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