Cadet Certificate of Proficiency History

Certificate  of  Proficiency (COP) the highest CAP cadet award was first issued in 1949/1950 and the last was awarded in July of 1964. The USAF and CAP held  this  accomplishment in very high regard.

Direct from  the 1951 Air Officer Guide:

“A primary mission assigned the CAP is the Cadet Training Program which provides practical preflight instructions in aviation subjects and elementary military matters to the citizens of the United States between the ages of 15 through 17, and is developing a continuing reserve pool of a minimum of 100,000 carefully selected cadets as a source of personnel procurement for the Air Force. The complete course of instruction comprises 3 years and is progressively given as follows:

            Red (basic) Course  ……………………………………………………….     120 hours

            White (intermediate) Course  ………………………………………..       115 hours

            Blue (advanced) Course  …………………………………………………    148 hours

All cadet must complete 90% of the hour requirements with an academic average of at least 75% to complete the course. Cadets must also attend 2 summer encampments at AF bases at which additional intensive training is given. Upon completion of the Blue Course and encampments, cadets graduate with the certificate of proficiency.

The AF recognizes the graduate cadets as follows:

(1)     Aviation Cadets and  Air Force ROTC Courses—Graduate cadets are given enrollment priorities   over non-service personnel.

(2)     USAF, USAFR Air National Guard—–Graduate cadets are enlisted initially in the grade of Pfc. USAF enlistment’s must be for 3 years or longer.

With the recent publication of the CAP “Aviation Study Manual,” which was developed for use both in the CAP cadet units and in the secondary schools, a coordinated CAP-Secondary School aviation training program has been launched throughout the various states. Approximately two-thirds of the states are either making plans or have already initiated high school aviation study courses developed around the CAP training manual.”

The COP examination was  administered  by  the  USAF  Wing  LO’s, usually at the Wing’s Summer Encampment activity, and  graded  by National HQ, a passing score of 70% on a 150  question  test  was required, each Certificate of Proficiency was personally  signed, and not stamped by the USAF Chief of Staff, and the CAP  National Commander, who at that time in CAP history was also  was  a  USAF General Officer.

The COP test was derived from information found in CAP’s Volume 1,  Book  I (Civil Air Patrol Manual), and Volume I, Book II (Aviation Study Manual) fondly called by many as the (Old Brown Books) which was the nucleus of the CAP training manual. There wasn’t  any way to prepare for this test, you just took it cold.

In 1957 the “old Brown books” were replaced by 6 separate book that made up the “aviation study guide” the test was also modified to reflect these new books, late in 1962 the test was available directly from national headquarters. The program was modified with the new and “improved”  the “new” CAPC program that was to develop “Dynamic Aerospace Leaders”.

In  the 15 year period 1949 -1964 only about 17,500 COP’s were  awarded,  and this was during the time frame when CAP had almost 70,000 cadets.

From the Regulations..

Civil Air Patrol Regulation 35‑4, 1 March 1957.

  1. Cadet Achievement Ribbons. Cadet Achievement Ribbons will be awarded to cadets who meet the qualifications for the ribbons as listed below. Cadets who have been awarded these ribbons may also wear them on the CAP uniform after they become senior members. Senior members may also be awarded theme ribbons provided they have properly qualified as shown below:
  2. Certificate of Proficiency Ribbon. Cadet and senior members must have completed the requirements for, and have been awarded a Certificate of Proficiency.

Civil Air Patrol Manual 50‑2, Cadet Log Book and Guide, June 1957.

  1. General. You can earn the following CAP cadet awards and decorations by successfully completing the training requirements: . . .Certificate of Proficiency Ribbon This ribbon is awarded when you have earned the Certificate of Proficiency.

First Bronze Clasp for the Certificate of Proficiency Ribbon –

You must satisfactorily complete Achievement Seven of the Phase III cadet training program,

Second Bronze Clasp for the Certificate of Proficiency Ribbon –

You must satisfactorily complete A­chievement Eight of the Phase III cadet training program.

Third Bronze Clasp for the Certificate of Proficiency Ribbon –

You must satisfactorily complete A­chievement Nine of the Phase III cadet training program.

Certificate of Proficiency authorizes you to enter USAF as airman third class.


Achievements were

Basic First Aid Card

Advance First aid Card

Life Saving

Communications CAP Radio License or Amateur Radio

Photography, have a story printed in Local and/or CAP’s National Publications “Contact”