Aerospace Education: An Overview


Maj Malcolm Dickinson, CAP

Aerospace Education Officer, New York City Group



This document will introduce you to the following aspects of CAP’s Aerospace Education program:


I.    CAP’s Aerospace Education Mission

II.    AE Staffing

III.   CAP’s Three AE Programs

IV.  Duties of the Squadron AE Officer

V.   Other aspects of the AE Program

V.   AE Materials and where to obtain them


I.  Civil Air Patrol’s Aerospace Education Mission


Aerospace Education (AE) is one of the three missions of Civil Air Patrol.  CAP’s AE program is divided into the internal cadet program, the internal senior program, and the external program.


Definition of Aerospace Education:


“Aerospace” refers to all flying activities, within the Earth’s atmosphere and beyond.

“Aerospace Education” is general (not specialized) education concerned with communicating knowledge, skills, and attitudes about aerospace activities and the total impact of air and space vehicles upon society.

“Congress realized a strong aerospace capability, in both military and civilian sectors, is essential to the national well-being.  They specifically entrusted Civil Air Patrol with the responsibility of informing and educating its own members, as well as the general public, about aerospace issues.  We need to support aerospace education for the general public, and also develop public understanding of the importance of being aerospace-aware and informed.”

We are not trying to train professional aviators; we are giving the people of our country knowledge about air and space, and air and space travel.



II.     Staffing


n      Region and Wing AE staffs consist of three people: the Director of AE (DAE) and two assistants, the Internal AE Officer and the External AE Officer.  (At the region level, the Director position is known as DCS/AE.)

n      Regions also have a paid professional, the RDAE, who works at the CAP-USAF Liaison Region.  In the Northeast Region, our RDAE is Lt Col Ann Walko. She is based at McGuire AFB in New Jersey.

n      Groups must have one AE Officer and may also have two assistants (internal and external).

n      One AE Officer is authorized at each squadron (composite squadrons may have two: one for seniors and one for cadets).

n      Cadet and composite squadrons are encouraged to involve one or more cadet officers (older cadets) in the program by appointing them as Aerospace Education Counselors. They help the younger cadets study for their tests.


III.   CAP’s Three Aerospace Education Programs


1. The Internal Senior Program (Aerospace Education Program for Senior Members, or AEPSM)

n      Seniors may elect to participate if they are interested in learning about AE.  All CAP members have a responsibility to familiarize themselves with the basics of AE; but it is not a requirement.

n      They study the college-level textbook Aerospace: The Challenge, either self-study or as part of a group class. 

n      Note: This book is scheduled to be phased out on 1 Jan 2002 and replaced with the new book Aerospace: The Journey of Flight. Squadrons and groups are advised against buying many copies of Aerospace: The Challenge, since they are $16.50 each and the book will soon be obsolete.

n      After studying the book, seniors take a 100-question test and must pass with either 70% (closed book) or “correctable to 100%” (open book).  This test takes 1 hour (closed book) to four hours (open book) to complete.

n      The Brig Gen Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager Aerospace Achievement Award is awarded to senior members who pass the test.  National supplies a large engraved certificate.  The member may then purchase a ribbon and miniature medal from the CAP Bookstore.  Members who complete the Yeager before completing level II of the senior program will receive a special seal on their Certificate of Proficiency (see CAPR 50-17 paragraph 4-8).

n      The neat thing about the AEPSM/Yeager award is that seniors can do it at any point in their CAP career. They can do it the day after they receive their membership card. They can do it a year later… or ten years later!  If you have new pilots join your squadron, encourage them to do this early on!  It will make them much better AE instructors.

n      Remember that all CAP senior members are allowed to take nearly any course offered by the Air Force Institute for Advanced Distance Learning (AFIADL). One course that may be of interest is course 00050, History of U.S. Air Power.

n      Senior members in the squadron should be encouraged to find other things (besides the Yeager test) to do for AE activities. Possibilities are endless: visits to ATC (tower), TRACON (approach), and ARTCC (center) facilities; museums; aircraft manufacturers; airline facilities; etc.


2. The Internal Cadet Program

n      Upon earning the Curry award, each cadet is assigned an AE counselor. This may be a cadet officer, the squadron’s AEO, or one of the squadron’s Cadet Program staff.

n      Cadets learn AE topics through self-study from the 6-book set Aerospace Dimensions. These books are sent to the cadet automatically when they join CAP. As they have questions or difficulties, they are assisted by their AE counselor.

n      These books were introduced in January 2001 to replace the old “. A guide to transitioning from the old books to the new books is available at

n      They can be ordered from the CAP Bookstore: 1-800-633-8768.  The set of 6 modules is $9.50 (item 0037D).

n      The Student Study Guide is $1.00 (item 0037F).

n      Cadets are required to pass AE knowledge tests before they advance and earn grade and ribbons.

n      Cadets must take an AE knowledge test at each level of Phase II.  They take this test only after demonstrating mastery of the material in that chapter to the satisfaction of their AE counselor.  (This cuts down on failure rates and is a valuable chance to teach the cadet how to study.)

n      Squadrons with high failure rates on AE exams are usually ones that neglect to implement the AE counselor part of the program.

n      Cadets may take chapter exams in any order. That is, they must pass one chapter to get their second stripe, but it does not matter which chapter.  Before taking their Mitchell exam they must have passed a test on each chapter.

n      A comprehensive AE knowledge exam is required for the completion of each phase (Phase II, to become a Cadet Officer; Phase III, to become a Cadet Captain; and Phase IV, to become a Cadet Colonel).

n      Thus AE is a crucial part of the cadet program.  A squadron without an active AE program will likely be a squadron without a good record of cadet advancement.  One sign of a poorly implemented AE program is high failure rates on the AE tests in phase II.

n      Studying this material can be problematic for cadets whose reading skills are not up to par, particularly for very young (11 and 12 year old) cadets.  One tool that makes the studying process easier is the online test bank created by the Canandaigua Composite Squadron. You can find the online tests at

n      Cadet Officers (phases III and IV) learn aerospace out of a textbook designed for high school/college use, called Aerospace: The Journey of Flight. It is a hardback book and is available from the CAP Bookstore for $17.50 (item 0038D). It is mailed to all cadet officers automatically when they earn their Mitchell Award.

n      National Headquarters has developed a program called “The Aerospace Education Excellence Award Program” (AEEAP) to help make AE a regular part of squadron meetings.  Each fall, every squadron receives an application. The squadron AEO returns the enrollment form and receives a package of six books containing over 75 fun AE activities.  The AEO agrees to stage any six activities (one per month from January through June) plus an AE day. 

n      It’s fun – a great way to make AE an integral part of squadron meetings.

n      Cadet staff can choose which activities to do, and can assist in running the activities.

n      Units which complete the program (all seven activities) are awarded a plaque and mentioned in the September issue of CAP News.

n      Units that complete the program and apply for a grant from the Aerospace Education Foundation are virtually guaranteed a $250 grant to be used for AE purposes. See below for more information on grands.


3. The External Program


CAP promotes aerospace education at all educational levels, preschool through college.  AEOs help implement the external program by staying in touch with local schools and teachers; by publicizing AE events of interest to the area, such as:

n      A visit to the local airport by a stealth bomber or other military aircraft

n      A round-the-world or other record-setting flight that stops in the area

n      Any link between local companies and aerospace, e.g., parts on board the space shuttle or a record-breaking balloon

n      Local airport events, e.g., airshows, balloon events, races, the New Jersey 300, EAA contests, CAP open houses

n      Aerospace Education workshops held around the country each year by CAP regions.


External AE Officers often visit local schools and sometimes are invited to teach a series of classes on a guest basis. They can use the CAP textbooks (either the modular Aerospace Dimensions series, in junior high schools, or the hardback Aerospace: The Journey of Flight in high schools.


CAP welcomes school teachers to join CAP as an Aerospace Education Member. This special membership category offers reduced cost and no need to wear a uniform.



IV.  Duties of the Squadron Aerospace Education Officer (AEO)


Senior Squadron AEOs (and AEO for Seniors in composite squadrons) are charged with familiarizing their squadron’s senior members with the AEPSM through study of the textbook “Aerospace: The Challenge,” and encouraging their seniors to earn the Yeager Award.


Cadet Squadron AEOs (and AEO for Cadets in composite squadrons) are charged with assisting the squadron’s cadets with the completion of the aerospace knowledge requirements of phases II, III, and IV of the cadet program.  They also should undertake the program “Aerospace 2000,” mentioned above, which supplies the AEO with over 75 ideas for AE activities.


All AEOs are expected to keep their squadron members abreast of current AE events, and to help with the external program: familiarizing the public, especially local school teachers, with AE.



V.    Other Aspects of the AE Program


1. The Specialty Training Track in Aerospace Education


Similar to other specialty tracks, there are three ratings that can be earned: the technician, senior, and master ratings.  The requirements and recommended materials are given in CAPP 215. Each rating requires the applicant’s unit commander to attest to his/her knowledge, performance, and experience in a different aspect of AE.

n      The technician rating requirements deal with knowledge of the cadet program

n      The senior rating requirements deal with knowledge of the senior program

n      The master rating requirements deal with knowledge, performance, and experience in the external program


Requirements for these ratings include:

n      Acting as a squadron or group AE officer for six months

n      Becoming familiar with the AE program and the applicable regulations and pamphlets

n      Assisting cadets and senior members to pass their respective AE knowledge tests

n      Informing the community, especially local school teachers, about AE events and activities

n      Keeping a bulletin board at squadron meetings with current AE events, e.g., space shuttle missions, descriptions of mission crew, space stations, comets, meteor showers.


Senior members completing the technician rating are authorized to wear the AE badge on their service uniforms.  Senior and Master Rating holders add a bronze or gold star to the badge.


AE specialists who complete the master rating earn the A. Scott Crossfield Award (certificate, ribbon, and miniature medal).


2. The National Congress on Aviation and Space Education


This conference is held each year at a different location and all AEOs as well as teachers from around the country are encouraged to attend.  Recent National Congresses have been held in Orlando, San Diego, Minneapolis, and St. Louis.  Airlifts to the location of the National Congress are available from each region.  The date and location of the next year’s National Congress appears each November in the CAP News.  Current information is also posted on the CAP National HQ web site at

Upcoming dates:         2002: Arlington, VA, April 4-6



3. Aerospace Grants

·  All units may apply for a grant of up to $250 to be used for AE activities.

·  Grants are awarded twice a year, but each unit may only receive a grant every other year.

·  Only those CAP units participating in the AEEAP may apply for the winter competition – application deadline 31 December, grant checks issued by 31 January.

·  Any CAP unit may participate in the summer competition, including AEEAP units that did not receive a grant in the winter competition. Application deadline June 30th, grant checks issued by July 31.

·  Applications are available at or email your request to


4. Aerospace Awards


National Headquarters honors the top three wings in the country, and the top wing in each region, every year. These wings are determined by awarding points based on activity in four areas: staffing, internal program, external program, and the wing’s plan of action.


The Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace Awards are given yearly to individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of youth in AE. Awards are given in each category:

1.      CAP cadet (must be a cadet officer)

2.      CAP senior member

3.      Individuals (educators, aviation officials, FBO owners, members of the armed forces, or members of Congress)

4.      Organizations (must have contributed continuously for at least ten years)

5.      Anniversary Award (to persons who have contributed to AE for more than 20 years)


The A. Scott Crossfield AE Teacher of the Year Award – includes a $1,000 cash award.


These awards are presented annually at the National congress.  It’s important to note that there are often too few nominees for these awards. Therefore each squadron and group is strongly encouraged to nominate a cadet, a senior, an individual, and an organization whenever there is someone who has been consistently excelling in AE. Even if they don’t win, simply being nominated is an honor.


VI.  Materials


The Aerospace Education program is described completely in the following materials.


n      CAPP 15, AE Officer’s Handbook - provides a complete explanation and overview of CAP’s Aerospace Education Mission.  Details the AE officer’s responsibilities.  (Note: this item is not available from the bookstore.  Each unit was issued one copy in late 1995.  If you need a copy, request one from National HQ/ETA via mail, phone, or email.  See below.)

n      CAPR 280-2, CAP Aerospace Education Mission, gives the regulations regarding the AE mission.  It was revised in July 1998

n      CAPM 20-1, Organization of CAP - Details the specific responsibilities of AE officers at wing, group, and squadron levels

n      CAPP 215, Specialty Track Study Guide – Specifies the requirements for the technician, senior, and master ratings in AE

n      Specialty Track Starter Kits – One for each rating; includes CAPP 215 as well as all required materials and regs.


Where to obtain AE Materials


1.      The following materials may be ordered from the CAP Bookstore, tel 800-633-8768 or
fax 334-265-6381:                                                                                                 Cat. No.   _Price_

-    Aerospace: The Challenge college-level textbook for senior members             38           $16.50
Note: will soon (2002?) be phased out and replaced with Aerospace: The Journey of Flight

-    Instructor Guide to Aerospace: The Challenge                                                   38B           $2.85

-    Aerospace Dimensions set of six modules - textbook for Phase II cadets        0037D      $9.50

-    Aerospace Dimensions Study Guide                                                                  0037F       $1.50

-    Aerospace: The Journey of Flight - hardback textbook for Phase III & IV cadets             0038D    $17.50

-    CAPR 280-2, CAP Aerospace Education Mission *                                           0284A       $0.60

-    CAPM 20-1, Organization of CAP                                                                       0350A       $1.50

-    CAPP 215, Specialty Track Study Guide                                                            0554         $0.45

-    Specialty Track Starter Kit – Technician Rating                                                 0572         $5.00

-    Senior Rating                                                                                                    0572A       $2.50

-    Master Rating                                                                                                   0572B       $4.50

* - also available for free at /nhq/pubs/pubs.htm


2.      CAPP 15: Free publication; order from national supply using a Form 8 (or on-line form 8)


3.      AE Officer materials, including step-by-step “how to get it done” checklists, are available on the web at


4.      The following materials may be ordered from the CAP Supply Depot (800-858-4370) or on the Supply Depot’s AE page at

-    Free catalog of AE supplies

-    Estes rocket kits and engines

-    Estes rocket launch pad starter kit

-    All manner of balsa airplane kits, paper airplane kits, balloon kits, etc.


5.      The Yeager exam: Squadron and Group AEOs order copies with answer keys from their Wing DAE by mailing CAPF 123 to their Wing Headquarters.


6.      Application forms for AE 2000 are available from your region RDAE or from National HQ:

Lt Col Ann Walko, CAP                                      Lt Col Joan Emerson, CAP

HQ CAP-USAF NELR/RDAE                              HQ CAP/ETA
2610 E 2nd St                                                   105 S Hansell St Bldg 714
McGuire AFB, NJ 08641-5018                             Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6332
tel 908-527-2557 –                tel 334-953-4239


7.      Applications for Aerospace Education Grants of up to $250 every other year are available from the Aerospace Education Foundation. Download the form at or email your request to or call 800-232-3563 (request document 0854).

8.      The date and location of the next national Congress can be found on the CAP National HQ web site at

9.      This document, along with other AE information such as links and field trip destinations, is available on my web site at

10.  Instructions for how to apply for the A. Scott Crossfield Award are at

11.  Names and phone numbers of all wing and region AE officers are available at



VI.   A Final Thought


Finally, remember that:

Civil Air Patrol members are obligated to involve themselves in aerospace education.  Members are required to:

1.     Be informed on aerospace developments and issues;

2.     Speak out on aerospace matters at appropriate formal occasions and during informal daily contacts;

3.     Share aerospace knowledge and experiences with CAP members and with the general public.


This overview prepared by Maj Malcolm Dickinson, CAP

This document and other AE documents are available on the web at

Please send corrections or questions to



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Vocabulary from Aerospace Dimensions

All cadets preparing to take the aerospace education exam on Module __ of Aerospace Dimensions should be familiar with the following vocabulary.


An understanding of all the following terms will be necessary in order to discuss the material introduced in this module.


Parts of an airplane













Parts of the wing




Leading edge



Trailing edge


Parts of the powerplant






Types of powerplants







Flying surfaces        Control surfaces

Wing                                    Aileron
Horizontal stabilizer           Elevator
Vertical stabilizer               Rudder


Axes             Motions      Control Surfaces

Longitudinal     Roll                Aileron
Lateral              Pitch              Elevator
Vertical            Yaw               Rudder










Types of landing gear

Tricycle gear

Conventional gear

Tandem gear


Environmental Factors






Forces in flight

High pressure / low pressure

Bernoulli’s principle

Newton's Third Law







Dead reckoning



Magnetic north


True north