Yo a i a a
Civil Air Patrol
Is an Organization of Our Time
Dec. of this year,
Civil Air Patrol
celebrates its 75th
anniversary. It was conceived in a
time of war as a part of
Office of Civilian Defense. The
founding documents clearly state that
the job of Civil Air Patrol was to
mobilize the personnel, equipment
and facilities of civil aviation that
were not being used by the military.
Once mobilized, those resources
would be used to supplement the
homeland defense requirements of
the United States.
So the question is why has CAP
lasted 75 years? Until the tragic events
of 9/11, there had been no real need
for homeland defense since 1945.
What has sustained CAP for all
those years, and indeed makes it a far
more robust organization today, is its
ability to change.
CAP has always been about citizens
serving communities. But what has
changed over the years is how best to
accomplish that core mission. Early
on, it was recognized that a young
auxiliary could assist CAP in
its homeland defense mission, which
led to creation of the cadet program in
1942. After the war, and in particular
after the scare that America was
behind the Soviets with the launch of
Sputnik, aerospace education became
an important mission. Also, the continuing need for relief activities after
natural (or man-made) disasters has
been a constant mission for CAP.
But some missions have gone away.
Target towing is no longer required by
the U.S. military to train gunners. A
coastal patrol mission to look out for
and sometimes attack German submarines lasted only about 18 months.
Search and rescue missions, one of the
mainstays of emergency services, are
rapidly declining with the advent of
better emergency locator transmitter
technology and cell phone and radar
But with the U.S. military on a
war footing since 9/11, some new missions have emerged. The training of
fighter pilots to intercept low and slow
aircraft is one. Another is escorting
military Predator aircraft from their
launch points to training areas. And
many more missions have emerged,
such as counterdrug flying, which
CAP has conducted for law enforcement agencies since 1989.
We are, and always have been, an
organization of our time. While CAP
celebrates its past, we live not there but
within the present instead. We are
always planning for the future and
changing missions along the way to
better position CAP for the needs of
What make this possible are the
CAP volunteers and the dedication
they have brought to the corporation.
In lean years and in tough times, the
CAP volunteer has always been there
to get the job done no matter what the
personal cost. It is our volunteers who
keep CAP refreshed and always in tune
with the times we live in.
I have been privileged to be a Civil
Air Patrol member for 41 years. It has
given me the chance to witness its
growth, especially in terms of new
missions. CAP is much better off
today than ever before.
Happy 75th birthday to my fellow
CAP members you deserve that
recognition and a hearty thank-you for
a job well done.
This painting, which hangs outside the conference room at Civil Air Patrol
National Headquarters, was presented to CAP in 1972 by the artist, Robert C.
Sherry. It depicts the early days of antisubmarine patrol during World War II.
Citizens Serving Communities