CIVIL AIR PATROL
Our present-day Civil Air Patrol is the product of the tense international situation prior to World War II. Axis forces made up of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan were taking over much of the world, and it was obvious, at least to some people, that the Axis powers had designs on the territories of the United States. In every country the Axis forces conquered, civil aircraft flight was eliminated. Too, in those countries not yet feeling the bite of Axis power, civil aircraft flight was either drastically curtailed or eliminated as authorities realized the need to better control air traffic through restriction to military flights only.During the period 1938-41, United States civilian aircraft pilots, aviation mechanics, and others all of whom we might call "aviation enthusiasts" became increasingly concerned about the international situation. They were acutely aware of the impending confrontation between the United States and the Axis powers. These air-minded men and women of vision realized two things: (1) the nation's air power had to be strengthened for such a confrontation, and (2) civil aircraft flights in the United States might be eliminated for the duration of the ensuing conflict. They looked upon the latter with particular disfavor since they felt that civil air strength could be used in any war effort to great advantage. After all, there were 25,000 light aircraft, 128,000 certified pilots, and over 14,000 aircraft mechanics in the nation at that time. In addition, there were hundreds of aviation workers who had the same interest. All of these aviation enthusiasts had essentially one thought in common: "How can I serve my country in this time of need?" Many of them got a head start by joining the Royal Air Force or the Royal Canadian Air Force to "get on with it." Others joined one of the US armed services. Those who could not get into a military service because of age, physical condition, or some other reason, still had the desire to "get in there and help," and they were prepared to endorse any plan whereby they and their aircraft could be put to use, when the time came, in defense of the nation. It was Mr. Gill Robb Wilson who made what was probably the first concentrated effort to effectively organize a civil air "patrol." Mr. Wilson was an aviation writer in 1938 when he took a trip to Germany on reportorial assignment. What he saw there further confirmed suspicions held by many. Upon return to his home state of New Jersey, he reported his findings to Governor Edison and pleaded that New Jersey organize and use its civil air fleet as an augmentative force in the coming war. With Governor Edison's approval, Mr. Wilson organized what became the New Jersey Civil Air Defense Services.
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