The Civil Air Patrol is a congressionally chartered, federally supported non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF).
CAP is a volunteer organization with an aviation-minded membership that includes people from all backgrounds, lifestyles, and occupations.
It 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.
The program is established as an organization by Title 10 of the United States Code and its purposes defined by Title 36.