Updated: Sep 8
In the 1940’s, Millinocket had a unit of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) with about twenty members. The Maine Wing of CAP had been formed in 1941. A civilian auxiliary to the US Air Force, it originally assisted the War Department by defending the Maine coastline during WWII. After the war, CAP became a non-profit with the mission of developing the nation’s youth to assist with search and rescue, disaster relief and more. It was made up of aviation-minded citizens like Frank LePage of Millinocket.
LePage, commander of the Millinocket CAP, received training at the Bangor Army Base and at Augusta and Rumford. He was the only pilot in the Millinocket group. During the war, Millinocket CAP members were to track planes in the area. LePage (owner of the Millinocket Theater) needed the services of the search and rescue unit in the winter of 1945. LePage and Eugene Legassey were checking ice conditions near Herd Pond when their plane had engine trouble and they landed in the icy water. After getting out of the water and hiking for several hours, they saw search planes. They were ultimately rescued by Fred Salem on his early version of a snowmobile. Salem was on 24-hour call for the CAP.
The CAP is still at work in Maine with over 300 cadets and adult members. Its mission today is more into search and rescue, aerospace education and is affiliated with the US Air Force.
In 1986, the Bangor Daily News featured an article titled “Millinocket CAP to hold Open House.” It gives a bit of history of the Millinocket CAP plus a detailed description of the LePage/Legassey downed plane incident and subsequent rescue by Salem. The museum has a copy of this article and photos of some of Salem’s early snowsleds. The museum was recently given LePage’s CAP pin, donated by Linda LePage Boyd,