Civil Air Patrol National History Program

The 1950s

Civil Air Patrol Model Building Kit

Civil Air Patrol Model Building Kit (1950s)

Beginning in the 1950s, CAP began to invest significant resources in Aerospace Education for a larger public audience, with an emphasis on exposing teachers and elementary school students to the science of flight. In 1955, CAP officially adopted this “official Civil Air Patrol Model Building Kit” for school or squadron use.   

Micronta Satellite Scope

Micronta Satellite Scope (late 1950s)

In 1956, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory instituted OPERATION MOONWATCH, enlisting civilian volunteers to spot and track orbiting satellites. To train these volunteers, CAP planes towed small lights to simulate the appearance of a satellite moving across the night sky. While cadets did not fly these missions, many participated as ground observers using telescopes like the satellite scope shown here and, after the launch of Sputnik in 1957, distributed tracking data via CAP’s nationwide communications network.

Air Force Special Film Projects

Ambassador’s With Wings (1958)

In 1948, 25 Civil Air Patrol cadets traveled to Canada to participate in the CAP’s first International Air Cadet Exchange while an equal number of Canadian Air Cadets visited the United States. Participation in IACE soon became many cadets’ highest aspiration. Extensive filming of the 1957 IACE allowed for the production of the 1958 film “Ambassadors with Wings”, which depicted Civil Air Patrol Cadets in their travels to 16 different countries during the 10th Anniversary of IACE.

View the film here.