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What is Civil Air Patrol?

     Pearl Harbor propelled the United States into World War II, but many Americans saw the AXIS threat long before Dec. 7, 1941. Among them were nearly 150,000 men and women involved in aviation.As early as 1938, they began to argue for the creation of an organization to harness their aviation resources to aid the nation in the event America entered the conflict. Their efforts, led by writer-aviator Gill Robb Wilson and supported by Gen. Henry "Hap" Arnold, resulted in the creation of the Civil Air Patrol on Dec. 1, 1941 - one week before Pearl Harbor.

minuteman     First organized under the Office of Civilian Defense, headed by former New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Civil Air Patrol members became the "Minutemen" of World War II, volunteering their time, resources, and talents to defend the nation's borders and fill the gaps as men and resources were being mobilized to fight abroad. The War Department, especially the Army Air Forces, recognized the important roles performed by CAP. In April 1943, CAP was reassigned from the Office of Civilian Defense to the War Department and placed under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Forces.

subchaser     "After the German surrender, one of Hitler's high-ranking naval officers was asked why the Nazi U-boats had been withdrawn from U.S. coastal waters early in 1943. The answer was exploded in a curt guttural: "It was because of those damned little red and yellow planes!" These Flying Minutemen, all volunteers, performed valiantly during the war. They performed many missions including coastal patrol to search for enemy submarines, search and rescue missions throughout the United States, cargo and courier flights to transfer critical materials and personnel, and even towing targets so Army Air Corps personnel could practice air-to-air gunnery techniques - a very risky mission with new gunners. In all, these volunteers amassed a stunning record - flying more than half-a-million hours, sinking two enemy submarines, and saving hundreds of crash victims. A thankful nation recognized the vital role CAP played during the war and understood the organization could continue to provide invaluable help to both local and national agencies.

seaplane     On July 1, 1946, President Harry Truman signed Public Law 476 that incorporated CAP as a benevolent, nonprofit organization. And on May 26, 1948, Congress passed Public Law 557 which permanently established CAP as the Auxiliary of the new U.S. Air Force. This law also gave the Secretary of the Air Force the authority to provide financial and material assistance to the organization

slogan     For more than 50 years, the Civil Air Patrol has aggressively performed the missions Congress mandated in 1946: Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs, and Emergency Services. Aerospace Education America's love of manned flight started with the Wright brothers and continues unabated during this century. World War II showcased the important role aviation would play in the future and national leaders recognized the importance of stimulating public interest in aerospace activities.

astronaut     CAP, as the civilian Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, was most suited to perform this mission. Their efforts focused on two different audiences - internal CAP members and the general public. The internal programs ensure that all CAP members (seniors and cadets) have an appreciation for and knowledge of aerospace issues. A rigorous educational program is tied to promotions at every level in the CAP organization. Aerospace educators working out of CAP's National Headquarters at Maxwell AFB, Ala., provide materials that are current and reflect the highest standards of educational excellence. The congressional charter also tasked CAP to stimulate public interest in aerospace issues. These external programs are primarily conducted through our nation's education systems. Each year, CAP sponsors nearly 200 workshops in colleges and universities across the nation which reach more than 5,000 educators. These workshops highlight basic aerospace knowledge and focus on advances in aerospace technology. Textbooks, learning tools, and visual aids geared to stimulate interest in aerospace matters also are provided for teachers to use in their classrooms. Started in 1951, these workshops have reached hundreds of thousands of young people.

jet-pilot     "CAP...a liaison between the planners of our air strength and our pilots and navigators of tomorrow...We must pass on our air experience -- not only in the Air Forces, but in every section of the country." General Carl Spaatz Former Chairman, CAP National Board CAP also plans and executes the National Congress on Aviation and Space Education. NCASE is the premier aerospace education conference held in the nation. The NCASE is designed to promote an understanding of aviation and space education to motivate and encourage teachers to incorporate aerospace education into their curriculum. It also encourages aerospace leaders to speak out on aerospace issues facing our nation today.

project     During World War II, CAP trained thousands of young men to fly before they joined the Army Air Forces. This training, coupled with positive values instilled by role models, resulted in the AAF having a pool of aviators virtually ready to do battle. After the war, the success of the wartime cadet program convinced Congress that a peacetime cadet program would pay great dividends. For the past half-century, CAP's Cadet Programs has provided young people between 13 and 18 the opportunity to develop their leadership skills through their interest in aviation. For many, it has also offered them the opportunity to learn to fly. "Your final mission is the cadet program. There, your job is to inspire the country's youth to become leaders and good citizens through their interest in aerospace. And to me, that is by far, your most important mission." General Donald J. Kutyna, U.S. Air Force Commander-in-Chief, Former North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Space Command

membership     A knowledge of aerospace-related information is one of the pillars of the program. Cadets progress at their own pace through a 15-step program including aerospace education, leadership training, physical fitness and moral leadership. As cadets make progress, they have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of activities including encampments on military bases, orientation flights, and a variety of national and international activities. Through its National Scholarship Program, CAP provides scholarships to cadets to further their studies in such areas as engineering, science, aircraft mechanics and aerospace medicine. Scholarships leading to solo flight training are also provided.

color-guard     The U.S. Air Force recognizes the high standards the cadets must meet. When CAP cadets enlist in the Air Force, they now enter as an E-3 (Airman First Class) instead of as an airman basic. CAP cadets are also well represented at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Usually 8-10 percent of the academy class is composed of former CAP cadets. The Civil Air Patrol is a civilian organization but, as the civilian Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, it comes as no surprise that it is organized along military lines. CAP is organized into eight geographic regions. These regions are subdivided by the states falling within their boundaries and each state has a CAP wing. Additionally, the District of Columbia and Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have CAP wings. These 52 wings are then subdivided into groups, squadrons, and flights depending on their size. There are more than 1,700 CAP units, half of which are composite squadrons or squadrons that have both senior and cadet members.

nhq     The highest governing body of CAP is the National Board, chaired by a member of the CAP Corporation whose title is National Commander. This position is held by a CAP Brigadier General elected by the members. Other members of the Board include the eight region and 52 wing commanders. This governing body also includes an elected National Vice Commander, Chief of Staff, Legal Officer, Finance Officer, and Controller - all civilian volunteers who have no active duty Air Force obligations or privileges. There is one key position on the National Board that ties the CAP Corporation to the U.S. Air Force - the Senior Air Force Advisor. The advisor's position is held by an active-duty Air Force Colonel who, in addition to serving as the Senior Air Force Adviser, is responsible for all active duty and DoD civilian employees who provide liaison oversight and advice to the CAP organization. In this capacity, the Senior Air Force advisor is also the CAP-USAF Commander. Sound confusing? It's really not. When Congress enacted Public Law 557 in 1948, they determined that active-duty Air Force personnel should be assigned to provide advice and assistance to the organization. Hence, Headquarters CAP-USAF was established. "As the active force draws down, the Air Force will engage in increased burden-sharing with its Guard, Reserve and Auxiliary (CAP) components. It is critical that U.S. Air Force installation and unit commanders provide priority support to CAP--which in turn enhances CAP mission readiness and a payback in increased mission support to the Air Force by its civilian Auxiliary." Mr. Bryan Sharratt Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Reserve Affairs) In addition to the Air Force staff at CAP's National Headquarters, CAP Liaison regions have a small staff headed by a commander and a staff of six other officers, NCOs and DoD civilians who perform aerospace education and training, logistics, and administration and operations functions. Each of the 52 wings also has a liaison noncommissioned officer and some also have a liaison officer - both who are retired U.S. Air Force members. The Civil Air Patrol has more than 53,000 members: 34,000 in senior-member and 19,000 in cadet programs. They come from varied backgrounds from police chiefs to schoolteachers and from big cities and small towns. These differences matter little. What does though is that all of these people want to be involved in their community -- they want to help others -- and they share a love of aviation. Aviation Assets

lake plane     The CAP Corporation owns 535 light aircraft, primarily Cessna 172s and 182s. Additionally, CAP members own another 4,700 aircraft that can be used to support assigned missions. When all of these assets are combined, CAP operates the world's largest fleet of civil aircraft and flies nearly 130,000 hours each year. An often overlooked resource is the number and experience of CAP pilots. One-third of all CAP members are FAA-qualified pilots. "Civil Air Patrol's missions are of increasing importance to our nation. Literally thousands of Americans owe their lives to CAP's search and rescue expertise; cadet membership is up and aerospace education as a teaching tool is more popular and effective than ever." Lt. Gen. Joseph J. Redden, U.S. Air Force Commander, Air University Maxwell AFB, Alabama Ground Assets In addition to aircraft, the CAP Corporation owns 950 ground vehicles to support their missions. Many of these vehicles are equipped with sophisticated communications equipment that becomes invaluable during disasters or extended SAR missions. The counterdrug mission is supported by airborne video and thermal imaging equipment. Communications

comm cadet     The Civil Air Patrol operates one of the largest communications systems in the country with more than 6,000 fixed land stations and more than 10,000 land and airmobile radios operated by over 20,000 trained communicators. This system consists of voice and automatic digital communications capabilities on long and short circuit paths. Hundreds of individual networks are linked together to form a highly flexible and survivable nationwide traffic handling system. The CAP National Digital Radio Network (NDRN) has drawn particular interest from other organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency which has joined the network and included it in their emergency communications planning. The NDRN consists of more than 2,000 computer based radio stations which take advantage of leading edge technology to automatically establish links as necessary and pass error-free message traffic throughout the system. Because the system doesn't rely on telephone lines, it is highly survivable in the event of natural or man-made disasters and--also because of its radio-based architecture--it is extremely flexible allowing end-users to "plug" into the system from anywhere within radio range of one of the 500-plus system nodes across the country. Supplies & Equipment

van     CAP screens mission-essential property from Defense Reutilization and Marketing Offices as a federal agent. Each level of CAP also has a combination of appropriated, state, and donated funds to purchase equipment and support their missions.


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