Gastonia Composite Squadron
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Emergency Services

Growing from its World War II experience, the Civil Air Patrol continues to save lives and alleviate human suffering by conducting a variety of operational missions in the area of Emergency Services including search and rescue, disaster relief, counterdrug, and homeland security. Most of this is done in CAP’s role as the United States Air Force Auxiliary as defense support to civil authorities, but in many cases CAP provides assistance to state and local authorities before there is a defined federal interest. To conduct these missions, cadets and adult members receive the same training and become qualified to perform these activities. The use of qualified CAP cadets is encouraged as much as possible on appropriate missions.


CAP flies more than 85 percent of all federal inland search-and-rescue missions directed by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base. Outside the continental United States, CAP supports the Joint Rescue Coordination Centers in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Approximately 75-100 people are saved each year by CAP members.


CAP provides air and ground transportation, an extensive communications network, aerial survey and photography for FEMA and manpower on the ground in areas suffering from a disaster. CAP has formal agreements with many government and humanitarian relief agencies including the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard.


It’s hardly surprising that CAP performs several missions in direct support of the U.S. Air Force. Specifically, CAP conducts light transport, communications support, and low-altitude route surveys. CAP also provides orientation flights for cadets. Joint U.S. Air Force and CAP search-and-rescue exercises provide realistic training for missions.

The Gastonia squadron has participated in a number of missions, including Hurricane Matthew (2016) and Hurricane Florence (2018). Our members served both in the field in conjunction with military units to assist citizens as well as at Mission Base with communications and coordination of aerial reconnaissance. 

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