On December 1st, 1941, one week before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Civil Air Patrol was founded by more than 150,000 citizens who were concerned about the defense of America’s coastline.
Under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Forces, CAP pilots flew more than 500,000 hours, were credited with sinking two enemy submarines and rescued hundreds of crash survivors during World War II.
CAP aircraft and pilots also assisted in the training of anti-aircraft gunners and patrolled the US borders.
On July 1, 1946, President Harry Truman established CAP as a federally chartered benevolent civilian corporation, and Congress passed Public Law 557 on May 26, 1948. CAP was charged with three primary missions – aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services.
With the passage of Public Law 106-398 in October 2000, Congress provided that “The Civil Air Patrol is a volunteer civilian auxiliary of the Air Force when the services of the Civil Air Patrol are used by any department or agency in any branch of the federal government.”
Today the Civil Air Patrol operates one of the largest fleets of single-engine piston aircraft in the world, with 550 currently in the fleet.
Civil Air Patrol now has eight geographic regions composed of 52 wings -- one wing for each state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Wings are subdivided into groups, squadrons and, sometimes, flights. There are approximately 1,600 individual units, with 57,000 volunteer cadet and adult members nationwide.