When the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program debuted in 1942, it was greeted with great enthusiasm—but members were sometimes frustrated by a lack of training materials. William D. Madsen, an early member of Colorado Wing recalled that:
“...under the impetus of the war and great public interest in the war effort it was relatively easy to to recruit large numbers of cadets in those days. Once we got them, though, we didn’t have a program…with a syllabus, curriculum, instructors or training activities to keep their interest.”
The Preflight Study Manual was intended to fill this deficiency and introduced cadets to the CAP, the military, aeronautics, and other topics. By December of 1944, a CAP News Bulletin reported that “[t]he number of currently active cadets now exceeds the total number of manuals in the first printing and thousands more are joining each month.”
During the Second World War, the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program was primarily intended to serve as a mechanism for recruiting and training young people for military service. As a result, Cadet activities—including encampments—were highly militarized and skills-based. Some cadets who came of age did go into the military and credited CAP’s preparation with getting them “through the tough spots of Army life.”
As the war continued, CAP began a series of intense recruiting drives, hoping to attract 250,000 young men and women to the new Cadet Program. Individual wings were assigned quotas and did their best to aid the recruiting efforts—Nebraska’s Governor even instituted a Civil Air Patrol Enlistment Week in May 1945. Ultimately, the quota was revised down to 100,000.
Cadet uniforms of the 1940s were very similar to those worn by senior members, but featured unique Civil Air Patrol Cadet (CAPC) insignia. The Preflight Study Manual for Civil Air Patrol Cadets specified that:
"When you're engaged in cadet activities, you wear a regulation Army uniform with special CAPC insignia. The insignia is a patch sewn on the left sleeve at the shoulder. It is the regular red, white and blue CAP insignia with the word "Cadet" embroidered beneath the blue ﬁeld. If you have enlisted in the Air Corps Enlisted Reserve you may wear your miniature silver wings over the left breast pocket of your uniform, or as a pocket patch!"
The shirt on the left was worn by A. William Schell, Jr., former CAP National Curator, when he was a cadet sergeant in Baltimore, Maryland, Squadron 332.