Civil Air Patrol: America’s Best Kept Secret

Charlie McMahon, Co-Editor

“Supporting America’s communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development and promotion of air, space and cyber power.” This is the mission statement of the Civil Air Patrol – a citizen-led organization formed in 1941 in order to “mobilize the nation’s civilian aviation resources for national defense service.” The Civil Air Patrol, or CAP, has attracted a wide array of members all across the country and is structured into regions and wings (states). The greater Southeastern region contains our local South Carolina wing, of which senior Matthew Weir is a member of. Matthew decided to make a documentary about these unsung heroes for his Senior Thesis Project, creating a professional-grade, 17-minute film about some of the local and regional members and higher-ranking colonels, each with their own stories and views on what being in the Civil Air Patrol means to them.


“I’ve enjoyed the community that [Civil Air Patrol] gives to myself and young people. It’s been a great way to get out of my house and participate in CAP and the community and do aviation at the same time,” said Matthew. For Matthew, getting to combine two of his favorite passions, film-making and aviation, was special. “I’ve been making films since I was eleven and have made over 70 short films and experimental films. Making the documentary was a culmination of all those films,” he added. The idea of making the documentary had been in the works for years, ever since he joined the Civil Air Patrol and began making films – both around the same time period. “I followed a pretty standard route: pre-production, production, and post-production. Pre-production is coming up with the outline of the story and projecting what that would look like. Production is conducting the interviews and gathering b-roll and other footage, and post-production is editing and figuring out logistics,” said Matthew.


After tirelessly working on his film, Matthew compiled well over 200 hours worth of work between pre-production, production, and post-production. His well-advertised opus of a film premiered on Friday, April 27th, to a large number of students, relatives, and friends.