The origins of Civil Air Patrol date to 1936, when Gill Robb Wilson, World War I aviator and New Jersey director of aeronautics, returned from Germany convinced of impending war. Wilson envisioned mobilizing America’s civilian aviators for national defense, an idea shared by others.
World War II
In January 1942, German submarines began attacking merchant vessels along the East Coast. With the military unable to respond in force, the Civil Air Patrol established coastal patrol flights to deter, report and prevent enemy operations.
The Cold War
The latter half of the Cold War witnessed the further expansion of CAP roles and capabilities. In 1979, CAP began flying Military Training Route surveys for the Strategic Air Command and the Tactical Air Command. A 1985 agreement with the U.S. Customs Service saw CAP conducting counterdrug reconnaissance missions for law enforcement.
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, ushered CAP into a new era of homeland defense. The following day, a CAP Cessna 172, the only non-military aircraft allowed in the nation’s airspace, provided emergency management officials the first high-resolution images of the World Trade Center site.
Part of the Total Force
On Aug. 28, 2015, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff, announced CAP officially a member of the U.S. Air Force’s Total Force, joining the regular, guard and reserve forces as American airmen.
Our History - Chièvres Air Base Cadet Squadron (NHQ-120)
In June of 2019, the Ramstein Air Base Civil Air Patrol Cadet Squadron created an independent flight at Chièvres Air Base in order to support the expansion of the CAP Overseas Squadron program into Belgium. Six cadets were recruited to form the nucleus of this new organization. They attended the 2019 Civil Air Patrol European Encampment that summer and returned to Belgium ready to take on leadership roles in this new organization. During the Fall of 2019, new cadets and senior members were recruited, and the Squadron quickly grew from six to twenty five cadets. Based upon the initial success of this independent flight, in May of 2020 the Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters chartered the Chièvres Air Base Cadet Squadron (NHQ-120) as an independent Squadron. In June 2020, the Chièvres Air Base Cadet Squadron and the US Air Force, 424th Air Base Support Squadron signed a Memorandum of Understanding. This agreement ensured that the newly established CAP Squadron in Belgium had a permanent home on the airfield. From this location the cadets and senior members of NHQ-120, train the future aeronautic leaders of the United States, and carry on the proud traditions of service established in 1936.