Senior members are members who joined CAP for the first time past the age of 18, or who are former cadets who transferred to the senior member program, which must happen by the cadet's 21st birthday. Senior members who have not yet turned 21 years are eligible for flight officer grades, which include flight officer, technical flight officer, and senior flight officer.
Though Civil the Air Patrol is known for its flying missions, CAP adults members, known as Senior Members, do so much more than just fly. In fact less than a fifth of all CAP members are pilots or aircrew members. CAP adult members come from all walks of life. Some are doctors, nurses, paramedics, or other medical professionals. Others are lawyers, paralegals, accountants, computer programmers, and other business professionals and executives. Really just about any career or background can be useful to and found in the ranks of the CAP adult membership. CAP supports a variety of missions that require adults from all walks of life.
In emergency services and operations CAP not only need aircrew members, but also ground team members to aid in the rescue of survivors or to assess damage after a disaster. CAP needs communications personnel to relay critical messages when there is limited or no telephone support. Administrative staff, financial managers, logistics and supply personnel are needed to document missions and get personnel critical supplies and equipment in the field that they need to conduct missions.
CAP also needs adults to support the cadet program. CAP has over 24,000 cadets across the country that need mentors willing to help guide and support them. The cadet program provides young adults between the ages of 12 and 21 a well rounded program of leadership, aerospace education, physical fitness, and moral and ethical decision making. In today’s world we need good people who are willing to step up and help provide a healthy, drug-free environment to develop tomorrow’s leaders. Many former cadets have gone into the military, government jobs, or private sector employment where they can and do make a difference, and really excel. There are many military general officers that were once CAP cadets. Senators and congressman, CEOs and others credit their success to CAP and the adult members who mentored them.
CAP needs adults for its aerospace education program. In addition to educating our own members, CAP’s adult leaders provide training and resources to teachers who reach out to students of all ages across the country. Aviation and aerospace impacts the lives of Americans every day, and CAP works to ensure that citizens know how valuable aviation and aerospace is in our world.
Officer grades up to lieutenant colonel reflect progression in training and organizational seniority, rather than command authority. Because of this, it is not uncommon for senior members commanding groups and squadrons to have members of superior grades serving under them. Current, retired and former members of the United States Armed Forces may be promoted directly to the CAP grade equivalent to their military grade, although some choose to follow the same standards as non-prior-service members. Former military enlisted personnel may choose to retain their grade as senior members, with grades E-4 (CAP sergeant) through E-9 (CAP chief master sergeant) available.
Senior members are provided with an optional Senior Member Professional Development program and are encouraged to progress within it. The professional development program consists of five levels, corresponding with grades from second lieutenant to lieutenant colonel. Additionally senior members with specific civilian professional qualifications may be awarded grade on the basis of their professional qualifications. Examples include FAA Certified Flight Instructors, Certified Ground Instructors, attorneys, medical professionals, Certified Public Accountants, clergy, and licensed educators or administrators who are often promoted directly to first lieutenant or captain. Each level of development has components of leadership training, corporate familiarization and aerospace education, as well as professional development within chosen "Specialty Tracks". There are many Specialty Tracks and they are designed both to support the organization and to provide opportunities for senior members to take advantage of skills they have from their private lives. Please visit the Specialty Tracks page to learn more about these opportunities.