Please note: this is not an official document. It's a memo I wrote up at the request of my group commander several years ago. What's written here is just the advice I (Malcolm Dickinson) would give to you (a new member). Your local unit may think differently about these things and you should certainly go with their opinion rather than mine! Hopefully this will be helpful in explaining this sometimes confusing subject.
FOR NEW MEMBERS
SUBJECT: Uniform Instructions
to Civil Air Patrol! One of the first things you will need to do is to assemble a
uniform. The CAP Uniform Manual (CAP Manual
39-1), which is mailed to each new member in a month or two, gives
detailed instructions on a dozen different uniform styles. This memo is intended to get your started with the basic
uniform while you wait for that manual to arrive.
There are other dressier uniforms that aren’t covered here – see
When to wear
wear is expected at group meetings, squadron meetings, training sessions,
emergency services exercises, and emergency services missions.
Basically, if it’s a CAP activity, you’ll be expected to attend in
uniform - the uniform appropriate to the activity, as described below.
There is some flexibility; if you are coming straight from work to a
group or squadron meeting, we’d rather see you attend in your work
clothes than not get to see you.
I have to?
The regulation says uniform wear is required on two occasions: 1. when flying in a CAP airplane, and 2. when working with cadets. So if you are not doing either of these things, no, you're not technically required to wear one. But wearing a uniform (even the simple golf-shirt-and-gray-slacks version), is a good way to show your fellow CAP members that you're enthusiastic and take your participation seriously.
most common uniforms, and when they are worn
1. Blues* (short sleeved or long sleeved) Group meetings, some squadron meetings, classroom training
CAP Distinctive – Aviator Shirt
Acceptable at any activity except banquets
CAP Distinctive – Blazer
Acceptable at any activity
Battle Dress Uniform (“BDUs")
Some squadron meetings, field exercises
(outdoor training and missions)
Flight suit Only
at activities where you will be flying
parts to each uniform (see diagrams in CAPM
USAF dark blue trousers, pressed
USAF light blue shirt (short or
USAF blue belt with shiny buckle
USAF blue officer’s flight cap
with CAP emblem
Shined black shoes with smooth
White T-shirt *
Insignia: Wing patch
sewn ½” down from left shoulder [NOTE: this is to be deleted in late
2006], gray nameplate, pilot wings, and either:
Officers: gray epaulets, or
New members: metal "CAP" cutouts on shirt collar
* - If short sleeves are worn, the T-shirt must be V-neck so it does not show. If long sleeves are worn, a USAF blue tie must be worn, with a tie tac or tie bar.
2. Flight Suit†
USAF sage green flight suit, CWU/27P
· T-shirt (Black, brown, or white)
USAF blue officer’s flight cap
with CAP emblem, or CAP baseball cap
Insignia: Embroidered CAP crest
sewn onto right breast; embroidered US flag sewn ½” down from left
shoulder; black leather nametag; plastic-encased grade insignia sewn on
3. CAP Distinctive – Aviator Shirt
Black shoes and socks
White aviator shirt (short or
· Insignia: gray nameplate, pilot wings, gray epaulets (officers).
· It is optional to wear ribbons. If you opt to wear ribbons, you may wear only CAP ribbons, not any earned from other organizations.
if long sleeves are worn, a tie (USAF blue, or CAP blue or maroon) must be
CAP Distinctive - Blazer
Black shoes and socks
White dress shirt (short or long
sleeves) or white turtleneck
Blue blazer, single-breasted
Tie (blue USAF tie, blue CAP tie,
or maroon CAP tie)
Insignia: black blazer nameplate;
CAP pin-on blazer crest
Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) †
Trousers, woodland camouflage
Blouse, woodland camouflage
T-shirt, brown or black, crew neck
Hat, woodland camouflage
USAF blue belt with subdued (black)
Black boots (leather combat boots,
nylon mesh jungle boots, or similar)
York Wing patch sewn ½” down from left shoulder
“CAP” on blue background, sewn on left collar, oriented perpendicular to
front edge of collar, facing out
blue “CIVIL AIR PATROL” tape sewn above right pocket
blue name tape sewn above left pocket
Embroidered grade insignia, sewn on both collars, oriented perpendicular to
front edge of collar
New Members: Embroidered “CAP” on blue background, sewn on both collars, oriented perpendicular to front edge of collar, facing out
embroidered badge, if any (pilot wings, ground team badge, doctor, lawyer,
nurse, or EMT) sewn ½” above name tape
standards for wear of the USAF uniforms with grade insignia
order to wear the USAF uniforms (blues, flight suit, and
BDU), you must meet CAP grooming standards, which are given on the last page of
the Uniform Manual (CAPM 39-1). The
have two parts: a weight standard, and a standard regarding haircut, mustache,
and beard. If you don’t meet
these standards, you may not wear blues, the green flight suit, or the BDU.
joining CAP. My hair is long or I have a beard. Should I cut my hair? Am I
No. We are glad to have you as you are! We aren't the military, and we don't require certain things about your appearance. Stay as you are, and wear the "CAP Distinctive" uniforms.
for Uniform Items
Vanguard ( www.civilairpatrolstore.com )
New items only. All parts to all CAP uniforms, except flight jackets and service coats.
Back-ordered items can take a long time. Compare the amount of shipping charges to The Hock Shop.
New USAF items only (no CAP insignia). Blue shirts, pants, belts, hats, shoes. BDU blouses, trousers, hats, boots, socks. Service coats.
Comment: AAFES' prices are lower than the prices that used to be available at the "CAP Bookstore.
" This is the only place (besides a military base) where senior members can buy the blue service coat.
New items only. All parts to all CAP uniforms, except flight suits and flight jackets.
Comments: ships very quickly. Prices are lower than those from the old "CAP bookstore." Some of their insignia (ribbons and medals) are identical to those you buy from Vanguard; however I have found that other insignia are of slightly lower quality; the most noticeable difference is in patches (The Hock Shop has their patches made at a cheaper factory) and in the leather pilot wings. You can place your order on the web and pay with a credit card securely.
The following sources carry used flight suits and other used uniforms:
Used uniforms, some in excellent condition, at low prices.
This surplus store is run by a CAP member, and he stocks just about everything that a new CAP member would need except insignia. For instance: Blue shirts, blue pants, belts, flight caps, service caps, ties, jungle boots, overcoats, field jackets, flight suits, flight jackets, field gear, and outdoor equipment
Sample prices March 2001:
6000 Laurel Wood Dr, Milton FL 32570
Used flight suits, reasonably priced. If he doesn't have your size he'll keep an eye out for one. Let him know you're in CAP.
Numerous other vendors sell new and used flight suits and flight jackets at airshows such as Oshkosh AirVenture and Sun-n-Fun. If you or a friend has a program from either airshow, check in there for flight suit dealers, new and used.
Sample price of a used uniform, using the cheapest source for each piece.
Note: if you are shopping for price (e.g., a cadet getting his first uniform and trying to spend as little as possible), the used uniform parts from Old Lincoln County are hard to beat. However, you should compare each item there to The Hock Shop, because sometimes a NEW item from there can be less expensive than a USED item from O.L.C. Here's an example:
-- check back later to see my pricing example --
"LINKS OR REFERENCES TO INDIVIDUALS OR COMPANIES DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN ENDORSEMENT OF ANY INFORMATION, PRODUCT OR SERVICE YOU MAY RECEIVE FROM SUCH SOURCES.”