To Fill the Skies with Pilots: The Civilian Pilot Training Program, 1939-1946

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Launched in 1939, the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) was one of the largest government-sponsored vocational education programs of its time. In To Fill the Skies with Pilots, Dominick A. Pisano explores the successes and failures of the program, from its conception as a hybrid civilian-military mandate in peacetime, through the war years, and into the immediate postwar period. As originally conceived, the CPTP would serve both war-preparedness goals and New Deal economic ends. Using the facilities of colleges, universities, and commercial flying schools, the CPTP was designed to provide a pool of civilian pilots for military service in the event of war. The program also sought to give an economic boost to the light-plane industry and the network of small airports and support services associated with civilian aviation. As Pisano demonstrates, the CPTP's multiple objectives ultimately contributed to its demise. Although the program did train tens of thousands of pilots who later flew during the war (mostly in noncombat missions), military leaders faulted the project for not being more in line with specific recruitment and training needs. After attempting to adjust to these needs, the CPTP then faced a difficult and ultimately unsuccessful transition back to civilian purposes in the postwar era. By charting the history of the CPTP, Pisano sheds new light on the politics of aviation during these pivotal years as well as on civil-military relations and New Deal policy making.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560989189
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 3/17/2001
  • Series: Smithsonian Hist Avtn Spaceflt Series
  • Pages: 197
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Dominick A. Pisano is the former chair of the Aeronautics Division of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 1. The CPTP, the New Deal, and War Preparedness Chapter 3 2. "Baptism of Fire": The CPTP and the Legislative Process Chapter 4 3. The Uneasy Transition from Peace to War Chapter 5 4. The CPTP Goes to War Chapter 6 5. The CPTP and Postwar Aviation Chapter 7 Conclusion Chapter 8 Appendixes

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  • Posted October 3, 2014

    A good history of this somewhat forgotten component of WWII pilot training

    "To Fill the Skies With Pilots" is a well-researched history of this almost forgotten component of World War Two pilot training. Begun as a New Deal vocational training program and aviation industry kick-start program, the Civilian Pilot Training Program was equally distrusted by President Roosevelt and the US Army, which assumed control of this training stepchild in the early days of WWII and relegated its graduates to non-combat support flying. Yet the program was lauded by the Navy, which had no operational control over CPTP but made good use of its graduates as combat aviators. Pisano details the successes and shortcomings of he program in interesting detail. This book should definitely be on the shelf of anyone interested in the New Deal, WWII pilot training and/or the history of Federal vocational and industry development programs.

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