History of Civil Air Patrol

In 1941, as WWII was approaching our shores, Gill Robb Wilson assembled a civilian air fleet in New Jersey to augment military efforts. Civilian-owned planes and resources were used to patrol and defend America’s borders and shores. Between 1942 and 1943, the CAP Coastal Patrol successfully reported sightings of 17 floating mines, 173 U-boats and dropped 83 bombs, sinking two of them. During this time, they also flew several missions for land border patrols, search and rescue operations, target tows, cargo transport, and pilot/cadet training.

Post-war, in 1946, Commanders assembled to discuss the future of CAP programs. Later that year, Congress chartered Civil Air Patrol as a peaceful (non-combat) organization. Following the creation of the U.S. Air Force (est. 1947), Congress recognized the partnership of the Air Force and Civil Air Patrol, naming CAP as the official volunteer civilian auxiliary to the Air Force.

Today, Civil Air Patrol has over 60,000 members that dedicate their time and effort to aid their community, encourage aviation/aerospace education, and assist the Air Force in non-combat programs and missions. For more information about our history and missions, please visit the Civil Air Patrol National Website.