Gastonia Composite Squadron
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How Cadets "Rank Up"

Advancement (promotion) in the Cadet Program is not automatic. Cadets are expected to dedicate time and effort developing skills and knowledge in the four key areas of cadet life: LeadershipAerospaceFitness, and Character. In general, for each promotion the cadet must:

  • Pass online open-book leadership test
  • Pass a drill and ceremonies test
  • Pass online open-book aerospace test
  • Participate in a fitness activity
  • Participate in a character development forum
  • Participate actively in unit activities
  • 8 weeks (56 days) since last promotion
  • Have demonstrated the attitudes, behaviors, and skills identified as the achievement’s “Leadership Expectations”
  • Recognition: Additional stripe, ribbon, more challenges, and excitement


Some promotions require a "milestone" test, which is a closed-book, comprehensive examination of the cadet's knowledge of the Leadership and Aerospace materials that have been studied up to that point. The milestone promotions are:

  • Wright Brothers Award: The cadet promotes to the grade of Cadet Staff Sergeant (C/SSgt), a non-commissioned officer. This promotion ends of the Learning phase of the cadet's career and begins their Leadership phase.
  • Billy Mitchell Award: A significant achievement, the cadet becomes an officer as a Cadet 2nd Lieutenant (C/2d Lt), and enters the Command phase of their CAP career.
  • Amelia Earhart Award: The cadet officer moves to the Executive phase of their career, and is promoted to Cadet Captain (C/Capt).
  • Gen Ira C Eaker Award: The cadet becomes a Cadet Lieutenant Colonel (C/Lt Col) and begins preparing for their final achievement.
  • Spaatz Award: Civil Air Patrol’s highest cadet honor, it is awarded to cadets who have demonstrated excellence in leadership, character, fitness, and aerospace education. Less than one-half of one percent of cadets attain this level.
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