In September of 1949, with the change of the Senior Scouts program to Explorers, Air Scouts became Air Explorers. At first, the only initial change was in the name, and in a lower of the age to 14. Later on, in 1953, there would be a change in the advancement program. In 1959, the Air Explorer program was unaffected by the change in the Explorer program becoming Exploring. It would be in October of 1965 that the Air Explorer program as it was know would come to an end, becoming nothing more then another career oriented program of Exploring to be known as Aviation Exploring. Later, the October deadline was extended to March 15, 1966.
Air Explorer Program
The program of Air Explorers was identical to that of Air Scouts: a pre-flight aeronautics program for older boys inspired by the Air Force, much as the Sea Scout program was inspired by nautical traditions and the Navy.
Air Explorer Uniforms
Air Scouts and adult leaders wore uniforms of sky blue. Community strips, state strips, and unit numbers were available in dark blue on sky blue to match until 1953, when they were dropped and replaced with standard white on red numerals and strips. Some minor changes to uniforming included moving the rank patch to the left pocket, whereas before it was worn above the pocket. This was done to bring Air Explorer uniforms more in line with other BSA programs.
Air Explorer Advancement Program
There was initially no change in the Air Explorer advancement program from the prior Air Scout program. At first. Then in December 1953, it was announced that Explorers and Air Explorers would use the same basic advancement program and progress toward the Silver Award. A new Silver Award medal and patch were created, which more closely resembled the Ace Medal. The color of the Explorer advancement awards was changed from dark blue to red. And new Explorer Ratings were added to the existing ones. However, the Air Explorers did not quite use the same requirements. Rating requirements were a little different, and advancement requirements made earning the Aviation rating mandatory. This would be reflected in the new second edition handbook for Air Explorers which came out at the same time. There was a grace period for those wanting to finish their Ace Awards, but it was expected that all Air Explorers would start earning the new Explorer awards. This grace period ended on January 1, 1955.
With the demise of the Air Explorer program in 1965, there was again a grace period for earning Air Explorer Silver Awards, and statistics show a jump in 1965, which leveled off in 1966.
|Air Explorer Apprentice NO PICTURE||Air Explorer Observer NO PICTURE|
|Air Explorer Craftsman NO PICTURE||Air Explorer Ace NO PICTURE|
|Air Explorer Ace Medal||Air Explorer Ace Knot|
|Observer Airman||Craftsman Airman||Ace Airman|
|Observer Builder||Craftsman Builder||Ace Builder|
|Observer Communicator||Craftsman Communicator||Ace Communicator|
|Observer Mechanic||Craftsman Mechanic||Ace Mechanic|
|Observer Navigator||Craftsman Navigator||Ace Navigator|
|Observer Outdoorsman||Craftsman Outdoorsman||Ace Outdoorsman|
|Air Explorer Silver Medal||Silver Award Knot|
|Outdoor Skills||Physical Fitness|
|Aerodynamics||Aeronautics||Airplane Design||Airplane Structure|
Air Explorer Unit Organization
With the change from Air Scouts to Air Explorers, National wanted all the Explorer programs (Explorer, Air Explorer, and Sea Explorer) to use the same terminology. However, for traditions sake, the old terms were allowed. The new Air Explorer Handbooks reflected this change by using only the new terminology. To help match these up, see the comparison chart below. Squadron Leader was really the Squadron Advisor. Other then that the official terms for Air Explorers were identical to Explorers
|Boy Scout Troop||Explorer Post||Air Explorer Squadron|
|Scoutmaster||Post Advisor||Squadron Leader|
|Senior Patrol Leader||Senior Crew Leader||Squadron Pilot|
|Patrol Leader||Crew Leader||Flight Pilot|
|Scribe||Post Secretary||Squadron Secretary|
|Squadron Leader||Assistant Squadron Leader|
|Squadron Pilot||Assistant Squadron Pilot|
|Flight Pilot||Assistant Flight Pilot|
The basic manual for Air Explorer was the Air Explorer Manual, which is the second edition of the Air Scout manual. It detailed the new combined Explorer/Air Explorer Silver advancement program. For the first few years of Air Exploring they still used the Air Scout Manual with the revised requirements.
The only manual for adult leaders was the generic Hints on Explorer
Leadership. Why nothing equivalent to a Scoutmaster Handbook
produced is unknown.
|Air Explorer Manual (#3508)
1st 1951,Feb (proof printing)
2nd 1953,Dec #3508 6M1253
5th 1957,Dec #3508 6M1257
paperback, 224pg, edited by Ted S. Holstein
|Hints on Explorer Leadership (#3482)
|year||membership||units||ace awards||silver awards|
*- these years include Explorers earning Silver, not just Air Explorers.
NOTE- in 1965 they stopped recording Air Explorers separately, as the program ended in October of that year. The Silver Awards earned in 1965 and 66 were probably allowed for those finishing up their work. Its normal to allow a year or so grace. Note the Ranger Awards earned two years after that program ended.
Statistics taken from BSA Annual Reports to Congress.