Dear Prospective Member:
Crystal, Minnesota based North Hennepin Squadron (Unit NCR-MN-017) is one of 1,700 Civil Air Patrol (CAP) units in the United States of America. Congressionally chartered as the United States Air Force Auxiliary, the 60,000 volunteer members have access to a fleet of over 500 aircraft and 950 ground vehicles in order to carry out CAP’s 4 primary noncombatant missions:
- Search and Rescue / Disaster Relief is what CAP is best known for. When called upon by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), CAP members search for emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) and/or for missing aircraft. These Emergency Services missions are conducted by our air crews, grounds teams and combinations thereof. CAP has an extensive radio communications capability for use during missions and administrative purposes. In its search and rescue function, CAP performs over 85% of the U.S. Air Force’s SAR missions.
- Cadet Training Program designed to educate young men and women in the ideals of leadership and service through Air Force style training, discipline and education. Similar to ROTC, CAP cadet officers “run” the cadet program under the supervision of specified senior officers. Qualified cadets also participate in actual or training missions; in fact, they form the bulk of our ground teams.
- Aerospace Education is repeatedly provided to both CAP members and the general public.
- Counter Drug (CD) support is provided by CAP to state and federal law enforcement agencies. This important mission primarily entails the transport of equipment, evidence or law enforcement officers. The Posse Comitatus Act was designed to limit direct active use the military by civil law enforcement officers to enforce laws. It prohibits direct participation by military personnel in civilian searches, seizures, arrests and other similar activities unless expressly authorized by law. As part of the United States Air Force, CAP Members are governed by this act when involved in a CAP mission.
The unit structure, command and administration of CAP follows Air Force lines. The basic unit within CAP is the squadron (which may have subordinate flights). It may be a senior member (only) squadron, or cadet (only) squadron, or a composite squadron (both senior member and cadet program). Each squadron reports to a group (there are four in Minnesota, we belong to Group III), and all groups report to Wing (each state constitutes a wing). Wings report to region (we are part of the North Central Region), and all regions report to CAP National Headquarters at Maxwell AFB, AL, which is commanded by the only Brigadier General in the CAP who is also a volunteer supported, however, by full-time CAP and active Air Force officers and civilian personnel. HQs from Wing on up have full-time Air Force Liaison Officers, at squadron level we have an Air Force Reserve officer attached to us.
North Hennepin Squadron is a composite squadron, in fact it was the first composite squadron in the Nation, founded in 1942. Our Squadron, in other words, conducts both a senior member and a cadet program. While all senior members are encouraged to involve themselves in the cadet program, specific senior officer positions are directly responsible to the Squadron Commander for supervising the cadet program. Senior Members are women and men at least 18 years old, cadets are at least 13 and less than 21.
In the senior member program, we concentrate on search and rescue and emergency services, as well as on aerospace education. Each senior member elects one or more emergency services specialties in which to become qualified, such as ground team leader or member, radio operator, mission pilot, mission observer or scanner, or flight line officer, to name just a few. In addition, each officer pursues a career path in the fields of administration, emergency services, personnel, finance, public affairs, logistics, transportation, etc. Training is provided by volunteer CAP or other instructors who are experts in their field, by Air Force extension courses, or by other Air Force or community resources. As in any volunteer organization, you get as much out of it as you are willing to put in.
Less than half of our members are pilots and most any kind of occupation is represented in our membership. Senior members cannot obtain a private FAA pilots license through CAP, but they may use CAP aircraft for upgrading their licenses beyond the private license.
Equipment and Facilities
Most of our equipment, including our Cessna and our van, is furnished by the Air Force. Through membership fees, payments by the pilots, as well as donations, CAP maintains and insures its building, aircraft and ground vehicles. Pilots pay an hourly fee for using a CAP aircraft for flight training. On actual missions, aircraft and ground vehicle costs are borne by the Air Force, or another state government agency which has requested our assistance.
Our Squadron has its own classroom/hangar building thanks to the dedication of Squadron members who decades ago used their own money to purchase the building. Upkeep is the responsibility of all Squadron members.
As the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, we enjoy the privilege of wearing U.S. Air Force uniforms with distinctive CAP insignia and we adhere to the Air Force rank structure (but we do not have enlisted ranks for senior members). Few outsiders can tell us apart from the regular Air Force; wearing the military uniform therefore requires compliance with military weight and grooming standards. A distinctive (non-military) CAP uniform may also be worn and this does not require compliance with military weight or grooming standards. All members are highly encouraged to wear military uniform as an expression of our esprit de corps as members of the Air Force family. Our cadets are required to do so. Senior members must wear the CAP/USAF or the civilian CAP uniform when flying in our aircraft or when participating in a mission.
The Air Force supplies us with surplus military uniforms, and you may draw from the Squadron Supply Officer the uniform items which you need to the extent that they are available. Uniform items are also available for purchase at the CAP Bookstore at Maxwell AFB, and you may purchase them also at any military BX or PX, including catalog sales. CAP Manual 39-1 describes all details about our uniforms and each new member should familiarize him/herself with it before buying uniforms or insignia. Because uniform items you may want or require are not always available, and because you need to purchase insignia, name tags, etc., we estimate that each new member spends about $100 of his/her own money on such items initially. All expenses concerning CAP membership, including cost of a limited number of flying hours, are generally tax deductible if itemized as charitable contribution.
In order to join CAP you have to fill out CAP Form 12 (Application For Membership), submit a set of fingerprints (as part of the Cadet protection program) and as of Jan 1 2004 pay annual dues of $63.00 (part to National HQ and part to Minnesota Wing HQ). Renewal annual dues as of Jan 1 2004 are $53.00. The Squadron receives no part of these dues.
As of Jan 1 2004 a recurring charge of $40.00 per year for Senior Members and $20.00 per year for Cadets (first year of membership prorated based on join date), helps offset the costs associated with the operation of our squadron.
Shortly after joining you will receive a package from National HQ with a number of manuals to help you to become more familiar with CAP and to get you started in becoming qualified in an Emergency Services specialty and to acquire, and advance in, rank.
After meeting certain requirements, a new senior member will usually be commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant after six months (until then his/her rank is simply “senior member” or “SM”). Applicants with special qualifications, such as FAA pilot, aircraft mechanic, military officer, doctor, lawyer, EMT or nurse may initially qualify for a higher rank. As soon as you are qualified at least as a “Trainee” in an Emergency Services specialty, you may participate in actual missions (called REDCAP) or training missions (BLUECAP).
CAP has a proud history going back to 1942 when civilian volunteer members, among other activities, flew anti-submarine patrols for the Army Air Corps over the Atlantic and actually sank three German subs by dropping bombs from their privately owned aircraft. Since then, CAP has saved countless lives and helped thousands of people in distress. It also served our Nation well by educating its members and the public about aerospace issues and by training cadets to be the leaders of tomorrow (about ten percent of all active Air Force officers are former CAP cadets). Harking back to the national anxiety during the early days of World War II, CAP today remains the only organization whose members are official, non-combatant members of the United States Air Force. If you are interested in continuing this proud tradition, and if this type of activity and volunteer service appeals to you, we would like to invite you to our weekly meeting held each Tuesday. Cadets member meet from 1830 (6:30 PM) to 2025 (8:25 PM) and Senior members meet from 2030 (8:30 PM) to 2130 (9:30 PM). Unless otherwise noted on the training schedule, all meetings occur in the NHS CAP Squadron Headquarters at Crystal Airport. Please click here for directions.