Civil Air Patrol History:
Volunteers Serving America in Times of Need
Civil Air Patrol was conceived in the late 1930s by legendary New Jersey aviation advocate Gill Robb Wilson, who foresaw aviation's role in war and general aviation's potential to supplement America's military operations. With the help of New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, the new Civil Air Patrol was established on December 1, 1941, just days before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
The CAP insignia, a red three-bladed propeller in the Civil Defense white-triangle-in-blue-circle, began appearing on private aircraft everywhere. CAP initially planned only on liaison and reconnaissance flying, but the civilian group's mission expanded when German submarines began to prey on American ships off the coast of the United States and CAP planes began carrying bombs and depth charges."
A CAP crew first interrupted a sub attack on a flight out of Rehoboth Beach, saving a tanker off Cape May, N.J. Since radio calls for military bombers were often unproductive, unarmed CAP fliers dived in mock attacks to force subs to break and run.
The CAP coastal patrol flew 24 million miles, found 173 submarines, attacked 57, hit 10 and sank two. By Presidential Executive Order, CAP became an auxiliary of the Army Air Forces in 1943.
A German commander later confirmed that coastal U-boat operations were withdrawn from the United States "because of those damned little red and yellow airplanes."
In all, CAP flew a half-million hours during the war, and 64 CAP aviators lost their lives in the line of duty.
The U.S. Air Force was created as an independent armed service in 1947, and CAP was designated as its official civilian auxiliary the following year.
Civil Air Patrol Today.
Today, CAP handles 95 percent of inland search and rescue missions, with approximately 75 lives saved each year. Our members are generally the first on the scene transmitting satellite digital images of the damage within seconds around the world and providing disaster relief and emergency services following natural and manmade disasters, including such phenomena as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Texas and Oklahoma wildfires, tornadoes in the south and central U.S., North Dakota flash flooding and the October 2006 earthquake in Hawaii, as well as humanitarian missions along the U.S. and Mexican border.
In addition, CAP members are dedicated to counterdrug reconnaissance and to teaching a new generation about aerospace and its impact on our future. And our cadet programs ensure our youth receive some of the finest leadership training the nation has to offer.
Unlike our founding CAP fathers, many of whom flew their own airplanes and performed life-threatening missions without any formal training, our 56,000-plus members are now provided with top-notch, year-round professional development training opportunities and with aircraft equipped with the most advanced technologies available for search and rescue.
Civil Air Patrol Vision:
“America’s Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol, building the nation’s finest force of citizen volunteers - performing Missions for America”
Civil Air Patrol Mission:
“To serve America by performing Homeland Security and humanitarian missions for our communities, states, and nation; developing our country’s youth; and educating our citizens on the importance of air and space power.”
Civil Air Patrol Motto:
Semper Vigilans (Always Vigilant)