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Civil Air Patrol (U.S.)

Last modified: 2016-01-02 by rick wyatt
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[Ceremonial Flag of the Civil Air Patrol] image by Dean Thomas, 21 December 2009

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Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is a Congressionally chartered, federally supported, non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF). CAP performs three congressionally assigned key missions: emergency services, which includes search and rescue (by air and ground) and disaster relief operations; aerospace education for youth and the general public; and cadet programs for teenage youth. In addition, CAP has recently been tasked with homeland security and courier service missions. CAP also performs non-auxiliary missions for various governmental and private agencies, such as local law enforcement and the American Red Cross.

Nationwide, CAP is a major operator of single-engine general aviation aircraft, used in the execution of its various missions, including orientation flights for cadets and the provision of significant emergency services capabilities. Because of these extensive flying opportunities, many CAP members become licensed pilots.

The hierarchical and military auxiliary organization is headed by the National Headquarters (with authority over the national organization) followed by eight regional commands and 52 wings (each of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico). Each wing supervises the individual groups and squadrons that comprise the basic operational unit of the organization.

Esteban Rivera, 2 October 2010

Description of the flag

The Civil Air Patrol Flag is a Gray Flag with the Civil Air Patrol Crest (surrounded by a circle of thirteen white stars arranged in the same manner as those on the USAF flag) emblazoned in the center. Versions of this flag used for parades have a dark blue fringe sewn on the fly end and top-and-bottom edges of the flag.

Generic versions of the Civil Air Patrol flag are screen-printed on nylon, while THE Civil Air Patrol flag used at National Headquarters is a silk flag with the central emblem fully appliqued. The size of this flag is set at 4 feet four inches x 5 feet 6 inches.
Dean Thomas, 21 December 2009

CAP Region/Wing Flag

[Region/Wing Flag of the Civil Air Patrol] image by Dean Thomas, 25 January 2010

There are fifty-two wings in the Civil Air Patrol (all 50 U.S. States, plus the National Capital Wing and Puerto Rico Wing), and eight regions (regions are made up of six or seven wings). The flags used by CAP Regions/Wings look superficially like the CAP organizational flag except that a scroll above the CAP emblem bears the lettering CIVIL AIR PATROL in red, and the scroll below the shield bears the name of the region/wing. The size of this flag is set at 3 feet x 4 feet, with a 2-and-a-half inch blue silk fringe. Cords and Tassels are not authorized for this flag.
Dean Thomas, 25 January 2010

CAP Squadron/Group Flag

[Squadron/Group Flag of the Civil Air Patrol] image by Dean Thomas, 21 December 2009

At the Group and Squadron level (unlike the Commonwealth Air Forces, Groups make up Wings in the US), there is a specific flag for their use. This flag is colored intermediate blue with a white triangle in the center, upon which is emblazoned a red three-bladed propeller. Beneath the triangle is a white scroll with the words CIVIL AIR PATROL in red lettering. Above the triangle is another scroll which bears the name of the squadron/group (also in red). The parade version of this flag - like the CAP flag - has a dark blue fringe. This flag is double-sided so that the lettering reads correctly. Cords and Tassels are not authorized for this flag.
Dean Thomas, 21 December 2009

CAP Unit Guidon

[Unit Guidon of the Civil Air Patrol] image by Dean Thomas, 30 January 2010

Squadrons and groups are also authorized the use of a guidon to represent the unit as a whole in circumstances where the CAP Squadron Flag would not be appropriate. These guidons are 1 foot 8 inches by 2 feet 3-and three quarter inches in size with a ten inch swallowtail cut out from the fly end. The guidon is colored blue(same shade as the squadron/group flag) with a three bladed red propellor within a white triangle depicted in the center. Beneath the prop-and-triangle is the unit charter number in white.
Dean Thomas, 30 January 2010

CAP Unit Citation Award Streamer

[Unit Citation Award Streamer Civil Air Patrol] image by Dean Thomas, 30 January 2010

Units/Groups/Wings/Regions which are awarded the Unit Citation Award are granted the privilege to attach a Unit Citation Award Streamer to their unit/group/wing/region flag, in much the same manner as campaign streamers are awarded to U.S. Military flags. The streamer is crimson, with the words UNIT CITATION AWARD embroidered in white.
Dean Thomas, 30 January 2010

CAP National Commander

[National Commander's Flag of the Civil Air Patrol] image by Dean Thomas, 23 January 2004

At a CAP activity at the USAF Academy, the CAP Commander, BGEN Bobick attended the graduation parade. A cadet behind him was holding a special flag. This flag is used by all current and past national commanders of CAP (All are Brigadier-Generals as that is the only way a CAP officer can acquire that rank - if he or she is the national commander of CAP). CAP is the auxiliary of the USAF and as such, all uniform items and emblems have to be approved by the USAF. The flag picture is based on my recollection of what the flag looks like. It has a gold fringe and the CAP seal is embroidered in the top left corner. The white star is more toward the lower fly of the flag (definitely NOT centered). The shade of blue is the same as that for other USAF Flag Officers flag.
Dean Thomas, 23 January 2004

CAP National Vice-Commander

[National Vice-Commander's Flag of the Civil Air Patrol] image by Dean Thomas, 13 January 1999

In 2002, the United States Air Force and the Civil Air Patrol agreed that from 2003, the National Commander of CAP would hold the rank of Major-General, with the Vice-Commander holding the rank of Brigadier-General. Because of this, a new flag for the National Commander was inaugurated. It consists of two stars on a blue field, denoting the rank insignia worn by a Major-General. The CAP seal is retained and is located in the top left corner of the flag. The Vice-Commander uses the single-starred flag to denote his rank.
Dean Thomas, 23 January 2004

Parade Order of Precedence

While most times CAP Honor Guards will only use two flags (U.S. Flag and Unit Flag), some units will carry more than one flag, or a flag other than the Unit Flag. The list below shows the precedence level of the flags. The United States flag will always be on the observer's left.

  1. United States Flag
  2. USAF Flag
  3. State Flag
  4. Civil Air Patrol Flag
  5. CAP Region Flag
  6. CAP Wing Flag
  7. CAP Group Flag
  8. CAP Unit Flag
More information pertaining to these flags and their authorized useage can be found in Civil Air Patrol Regulations (CAPR 900-2).