Aerospace Education



CAP’s aerospace education efforts focus on two different audiences: volunteer CAP members and the general public.  The programs ensure that all CAP members (seniors and cadets) have an appreciation for and knowledge of aerospace issues.  To advance within the organization, members are required to participate in the educational program.  Aerospace educators at CAP’s National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., provide current materials that reflect the highest standards of educational excellence.  Aerospace education is divided into two parts: internal and external.

The internal aerospace education program has two parts as well: cadet and senior. Cadets complete aerospace education as one of the requirements to progress through the  achievement levels of the cadet program. Senior members have a responsibility to become knowledgeable of aerospace issues and the AE program that CAP provides. They are further encouraged to share the information obtained with their local communities and school systems.

CAP’s external aerospace programs are conducted through our nation’s educational system.  Each year, CAP sponsors many workshops in states across the nation, reaching hundreds of educators and thereby thousands of young people.  These workshops highlight basic aerospace knowledge and focus on advances in aerospace technology.  CAP’s aerospace education members receive more than 20 free aerospace education classroom materials.

To learn more about CAP’s aerospace education programs, products, and other resources available to our members, go  For information about joining as an aerospace education member (AEM) and to join online, go to



The Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Education Program has been a strong contributor to Aerospace Education since 1946…

On July 1, 1946, Public Law 476 established CAP as a patriotic and educational organization and an “instrumentality of the United States,” a unique status similar to that accorded the American Red Cross. After WWII, air search and ground rescue became CAP’s primary operational mission, along with the education and training of “air-minded” and patriotic youth through the CAP cadet program. Cadet orientation flights offered many young people their first airplane ride. Led by educators Dr. Mervin Strickler and Jack Sorenson, a well-planned aviation curriculum was developed for CAP cadets and was soon adopted in high schools and colleges across America.

In 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, America was astounded and moved into high gear. Early efforts to track satellites involved a system of ground observers scanning the nighttime skies. Satellite passage was so fast – 20 seconds from horizon to overhead to horizon – that ground personnel could only radio their timing of these events as “See – Center – Saw.” How to train for this? How to simulate the passage of a satellite overhead? Air Force jets flew too fast or too high, so CAP planes towed a low-wattage light bulb protected in a low-cost aerodynamic shape: a bathroom plunger- to simulate this satellite passage! In the nighttime sky, the set-up was exactly as bright at 7,000 feet as an orbiting satellite in space. CAP instantly became a national force multiplier in its ability and viability to provide simulation capabilities for training purposes.


Current National STEM Status: America, historically the most innovative country in the world, is in dire need of a next generation workforce of STEM experts. Yet, America’s youth are lagging in STEM interest, competence, and career pursuit. Compounding the issue and continually looming is lack of adequate funding and lack of training for the educators tasked to resolve this national crisis. Immediate attention is needed in educational institutions, youth and aerospace organizations, and industries to provide rigorous and relevant opportunities for experiential STEM learning that will lead to pursuit of aerospace-related careers.

Civil Air Patrol Action Plan: CAP is addressing this national issue by developing engaging and relevant K-12 aerospace products and programs that when used in collaborative initiatives with like-minded organizations will provide vocational and avocational aerospace opportunities for K-12 youth across the nation.

CAP Aerospace Education Program Goal: Using aerospace as the spark, generate enthusiasm among our nation’s youth toward STEM-related subjects and careers to ensure America’s status as a leader in STEM workforce development and national security initiatives.