Gastonia Composite Squadron
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Who We Are

Civil Air Patrol (CAP) was founded in December 1941 shortly before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, became the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary in 1947, and today is part of the U.S. Air Force Total Force.

We are an all-volunteer organization with membership that includes people from all backgrounds, lifestyles, and occupations. Membership consists of youth ages 12-19 who participate in the Cadet Program, and adults 18 and over who as instructors, supervisors, mentors, and operators. Cadets and senior members can participate in real-world missions, and all members wear uniforms while performing their duties.

Nationwide, CAP is a major operator of single-engine general aviation aircraft. The aircraft are used in executing CAP's various missions including orientation flights for cadets and providing significant emergency services capabilities. Because of these extensive flying opportunities, many CAP members are or become licensed pilots.

What We Do

Civil Air Patrol has three primary missions — Emergency Services, Cadet Programs, and Aerospace Education

Emergency Services

CAP is well known for conducting air and ground search activities in conjunction with search and rescue (SAR) operations, and is active in disaster relief operations such as setting up distribution stations and distributing food, water, tarps, etc. to the public. Read more here.

Cadet Programs

Established in 1942, the cadet program is a military-style program that teaches young men and women teamwork, moral leadership, technical skills to support emergency services, aerospace topics, and military history and customs. Cadets wear U.S. Air Force style uniforms, hold rank and grade, and practice military customs and courtesies. Cadets broaden their horizons, learn to assume responsibility, feel self-confidence, and set goals for their lives. The program operates at the local squadron level and includes weekly meetings and weekend activities as well as week-long summer activities and camps. Cadets are eligible for orientation flights in Civil Air Patrol aircraft, including glider and airplane flights. Read more here.

Aerospace Education

The Aerospace Education Program provides aviation-related education and educational activities for members, including courses about all aspects of aviation including flight physics, dynamics, history, the space program, and new technologies and advances in aviation and space exploration. The program also has an external outreach component that helps school teachers integrate aviation and aerospace into the classroom by providing seminars and course materials. Read more here.


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