Civil Air Patrol Sanford Squadron Being Formed at Raleigh Exec

SANFORD, N.C. — Volunteer pilots are now being recruited to serve in a new Civil Air Patrol squadron that will be based at Raleigh Exec, a general aviation airport serving North Carolina’s Triangle Region, and an information session will be held on February 5, at 7 p.m., in the terminal’s conference room.

Civil Air Patrol is the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. Volunteers provide emergency services — helping state, local and federal agencies provide comfort in times of disaster — and work to keep the homeland safe. Members also offer aviation-related education to youth throughout the community, including members of the Civil Air Patrol cadet program. Cadets are youth age 12 and older who are interested in aviation- and space-related careers and participate in a year-round educational program.

According to the Civil Air Patrol website,, the auxiliary currently has more than 64,000 adult members, with squadrons in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and some U.S. Air Force installations overseas.

Lt. Col. Jeff Willis, who is helping organize the new Sanford Squadron, says it’s being formed because of the huge pilot base locally and overall interest in the Civil Air Patrol and its activities. “Really, this is something that has actually been in the works for a while now,” he said. “We planned to start it several years ago, but then pandemic got in the way. Now, we’re in a position to get it up and running.”

Another driving force behind the Sanford Squadron is Col. Larry Ragland, a resident of Sanford who has a distinguished career with the Civil Air Patrol. A member since 1976, Ragland is a former commander of the North Carolina Wing, the statewide organization. He also has served as a regional commander, national chief of staff and member of the Board of Governors.

Civil Air Patrol members can commit as much time as they want. They begin by attending two meetings each month, but then train at other times as their schedule allows. “It’s like any other volunteer activity: The more you put in, the more you get back,” Willis said. “The Civil Air Patrol handles almost all of the inland search and rescue and tons of non-combat missions for the U.S. Air Force. So, this is a good opportunity for the general aviation community to give back to the entire community.”

Though members of the Civil Air Patrol do not have be pilots, the Sanford Squadron is focusing initially on pilot recruitment to get the organization up and running. Once established, the squadron will add additional members and may consider a cadet squadron.

Details will be provided at the information session. For more information, contact Col. Larry Ragland at lr******@nc*****.org or Lt.Col. Jeff Willis at jw*****@nc*****.org.

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About Raleigh Exec
Billed as a premier corporate gateway to the Research Triangle, Raleigh Exec Jetport is a general aviation airport serving corporate and recreational flights in a region of central North Carolina that includes Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill, Sanford and the Research Triangle Park. Raleigh Exec operates on 700 acres off of U.S. 1, just 15 miles from the Raleigh Outer Beltline, and is home to corporate aircraft, the North Carolina Forest Service, many aviation-related businesses and one of the nation’s largest and most respected flying clubs. More information is available at