Aviation leader Gill Robb Wilson and others won approval for a
national Civil Air Patrol. On Dec. 1, 1941, CAP was founded by
the federal Office of Civilian Defense (OCD).
Beginning on March 5, CAP Coastal Patrol operations began at
Coastal Patrol Base No. 5, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, with an
eventual 21 bases established from Maine to the Texas-Mexico
border by September. The cadet program was founded on Oct. 1.
Celebrating 75 years of Service
On Feb. 17, President Franklin D. Roosevelt awarded CAP
pilots Hugh Sharp and Eddie Edwards the Air Medal for heroism, the first ever presented to civilians. On April 29, by Executive Order, CAP is moved from the Office of Civilian Defense
to the War Department.
CAP supported the Korean War effort
by continuing to provide SAR services
and a Cadet Ground Observer Corps to
monitor unidentified aircraft.
CAP flew radiological air sampling missions for
the Nevada atomic bomb tests.
Also, CAP membership briefly topped 90,000.
National Geographic published a 27-page feature
story on Civil Air Patrol in its May issue, complete
with a host of photos depicting the
cadet program, emergency services mission and
Civil Defense functions.
By this time, one in four members of Civil Air Patrol was a
woman flying in a variety of important inland missions.
The Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite in space, Sputnik. CAP members towed simulated satellites during Operation Moonwatch
flights to train ground observers visually tracking
it and future artificial satellites.
hazardous target tow mission came to an end
after many months of CAP aircrews serving as practice
targets for gunners and searchlight operators.
On July 1, President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law 79476, making CAP a federally chartered nonprofit corporation.
Shortly thereafter, headquarters was established at
Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Lucas V. Beau was appointed CAP national
commander. In addition, the first CAP cadet summer encampment was held.
The National Aviation Education Workshop was established with the help of
Dr. Mervin K. Strickler Jr., then head of
the CAP Aerospace Education Program
and a renowned aerospace education
pioneer. Today, the NAEW is known as
the National Coalition for Aviation and
Air Force Gen. Carl A. Spaatz was named chairman of the CAP
National Board. The International Air Cadet Exchange and
National Drill Competition became official CAP activities. Also,
Public Law 80-557 established Civil Air Patrol as the official
auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.
The CAP/Air Force ground rescue
school was founded by longtime Pennsylvania Wing Commander Col. Phil
Neuweiler. Three years later, the school
was moved to Hawk Mountain
Search and Rescue School.
national radio network was used to
support American scientists who were optically tracking new Earth satellites. CAP
radio operators transmitted over-flight data
to thousands of observation sites.
CAP moved its headquarters to Ellington Air
Force Base, Texas, after it began operating
under the Air Continental Air Command, which was responsible for overseeing
domestic Reserve and Air Guard operations. Also, CAP established the Office of
Safety at National Headquarters.
CAP leadership viewed the cadet program as the primary
peacetime mission of CAP. This changed dramatically the
CAP membership topped 70,000 early in the Korean War.
Search and rescue became primary mission. Also, the
CAP Chaplain Corps was established.
During the nationwide
Civil Defense drill, CAP flew 1,700 pints
of blood into an athletic field in downtown Washington, D.C., following a simulated nuclear attack on the capital.
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