Air Scouting began in 1942, inspired by the US Army Air Force much as Sea Scouts were inspired by the Navy. The program taught Scouts a great deal of "ground school". The USAAF during World War II took quite an interest in the program and gave it a lot of helpful cooperation.

For this program, National split the existing Aviation Merit Badge into 4 parts: Aerodynamics, Aeronautics, Airplane Design, and Airplane Structure. These distinctive badges lasted until 1952, when Aviation was brought back.

Air Scout Units were called Squadrons. These were subdivided into smaller groups called Flights. In 1946, offices and unit terms were renamed to bring everything in line with other Senior Scouting units. Flights were renamed Crews, so that all Senior Scout units had the same subdivisions. Squadrons were now lead by Senior Crew Leaders and Squadron Advisors.

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.

After 1965, the classic Air Exploring ended. It became just one of several career specialty areas of Exploring. Air Exploring moved away from being the classic pre-flight education program inspired by the Air Force. Over the years, the focus was more on civilian air flight, with emphasis on careers in that area. In the 70s, Aviation Exploring became one of several National Explorer program areas.