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Civil Air Patrol Celebrates 80th Anniversary

December 1, 2021

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Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Ala. (December, 2021) – Civil Air Patrol members in 52 wings and in overseas squadrons are celebrating CAP’s commitment to serving America's communities, saving lives, and shaping futures.

Dec. 1 marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of the organization, which became part of the U.S. Air Force “Total Force” in 2015. Over 56,000 members embody the organization’s core values of integrity, volunteer service, excellence, and respect as they serve—strengthening their communities and the nation with over $280 million worth of volunteer hours in fiscal??? 2020 alone.
 
The origins of Civil Air Patrol’s story began in 1936, when Gill Robb Wilson, World War I aviator and New Jersey director of aeronautics, returned from Germany convinced of impending war. Wilson envisioned mobilizing America’s civilian aviators for national defense. The proposal for a Civil Air Patrol was approved by the Commerce, Navy and War departments, and CAP was founded Dec. 1, 1941.

In January 1942, German U-boats started attacking U.S. shipping lanes along the East Coast. By June, enemy attacks had destroyed nearly 400 merchant vessels and oil tankers off the Atlantic coastline, often within sight of its shores. Civil Air Patrol was called into action by a short-handed military.
 
Using privately-owned airplanes armed with light bombs, civilian volunteers became the eyes of the home skies, flying a total of 244,600 hours patrolling and safeguarding the Atlantic and Gulf coastlines and aiding the safe movement of war materiel to the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific.

Since World War II, Civil Air Patrol has continued making a difference in communities by training civilians to serve in three primary mission areas—aerospace education, emergency services and cadet programs.
 
CAP’s aerospace education mission has helped inspire youth and adult members alike to reach for new heights. Some notable members include Lt. Col. Nicole Malachowski, the first female Air Force Thunderbird pilot; Space shuttle pilot Col. Eric Boe; and SpaceX Crew Dragon pilot Dr. Sian Proctor.
 
The Emergency Services mission has given members of all ages the opportunity to respond after tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters. Additionally, CAP members actively supported the responses to the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Finally, Civil Air Patrol is training cadets to be leaders in many professional arenas through its aviation opportunities, cyber defense training and character development training.
 
Today’s Civil Air Patrol may look different than it did 80 years ago, but at its core the organization remains the same. It continues to support America’s communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development and promotion of air, space and cyber power.
 

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About Civil Air Patrol
Now celebrating its 80th year, Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and as such is a member of its Total Force. In its auxiliary role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 single-engine Cessna aircraft and more than 2,000 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and performs about 90% of all search and rescue operations within the contiguous United States as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Often using innovative cellphone forensics and radar analysis software, CAP was credited by the AFRCC with saving 130 lives during the past fiscal year. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. As a nonprofit organization, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace education using national academic standards-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Members also serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs.

Visit www.CAP.News or www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com for more information.

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