Home  »  About

Today’s Civil Air Patrol

Intercept flight 75th Anniv

The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. CAP is a non-profit all-volunteer organization with an aviation-minded membership that includes people from all backgrounds and occupations. Adult (“Senior”) members are age 18 and up. CAP continues to perform its three congressionally assigned key missions: emergency services, which includes search and rescue (by air and ground) and disaster relief operations; aerospace education for youth and the general public; and cadet programs for youth ages 12 – 21. All members wear uniforms while performing their duties.

The organization is headed by the National Headquarters followed by eight regional commands and 52 wings (each of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico). Each wing supervises the individual groups and squadrons that comprise the basic operational unit of the organization.

History of Civil Air Patrol

Piper Cub 1966

In the late 1930s, more than 150,000 volunteers with a love for aviation argued for an organization to put their planes and flying skills to use in defense of their country.  As a result, the Civil Air Patrol was born on December 1, 1941, j

ust one week prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Thousands of volunteer members answered America's call to national service and sacrifice by accepting and performing critical wartime missions. Assigned to the War Department under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Corps, the contributions of Civil Air Patrol, including logging more than 500,000 flying hours, sinking two enemy submarines, and saving hundreds of crash victims during World War II, are well documented. 

After the war, a thankful nation understood that Civil Air Patrol could continue providing valuable services to both local and national agencies.  On July 1, 1946, President Harry Truman signed Public Law 476 incorporating Civil Air Patrol as a benevolent, nonprofit organization.  On May 26, 1948, Congress passed Public Law 557 permanently establishing Civil Air Patrol as the civilian auxiliary of the new;y formed U.S. Air Force.  The three primary mission areas set forth at that time: aerospace education, cadet programs, and emergency services are still the missions of Civil Air Patrol today!