In the late 1930s, more than 150,000 volunteers with a love for aviation argued for an organization to put their planes and flying skills to use in defense of their country. As a result, the Civil Air Patrol was born one week prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Thousands of volunteer members answered America’s call to national service and sacrifice by accepting and performing critical wartime missions. Assigned to the War Department under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Corps, the contributions of Civil Air Patrol, including logging more than 500,000 flying hours, sinking two enemy submarines, and saving hundreds of crash victims during World War II, are well documented.
After the war, a thankful nation understood that Civil Air Patrol could continue providing valuable services to both local and national agencies. On July 1, 1946, President Harry Truman signed Public Law 476 incorporating Civil Air Patrol as a benevolent, nonprofit organization. On May 26, 1948, Congress passed Public Law 557 permanently establishing Civil Air Patrol as the auxiliary of the new U.S. Air Force. Three primary mission areas were set forth at that time: aerospace education, cadet programs, and emergency services.
CAP’s aerospace education efforts focus on two different audiences: volunteer CAP members and the general public. The programs ensure that all CAP members (seniors and cadets) have an appreciation for and knowledge of aerospace issues. To advance within the organization, members are required to participate in the educational program. Aerospace educators at CAP’s National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., provide current materials that reflect the highest standards of educational excellence. Aerospace education is divided into two parts: internal and external.
The internal aerospace education program has two parts as well: cadet and senior. Cadets complete aerospace education as one of the requirements to progress through the achievement levels of the cadet program. Senior members have a responsibility to become knowledgeable of aerospace issues and the AE program that CAP provides. They are further encouraged to share the information obtained with their local communities and school systems.
CAP’s external aerospace programs are conducted through our nation’s educational system. Each year, CAP sponsors many workshops in states across the nation, reaching hundreds of educators and thereby thousands of young people. These workshops highlight basic aerospace knowledge and focus on advances in aerospace technology. CAP’s aerospace education members receive more than 20 free aerospace education classroom materials.