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What is the Civil Air Patrol?

The Civil Air Patrol is an aviation-oriented volunteer organization that is a federally chartered auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.

It has three primary missions:

• Emergency services — search and rescue, disaster relief, counter narcotics and civil defense to name a few.

• Aerospace education — this keeps the membership and public informed on vital aerospace issues.

• Cadet program — this is designed to build character and inspire youth leadership through an interest in aviation.

The Alexandria Composite Squadron, made up of both senior Civil Air Patrol members as well as cadets, was formed in June 2016. The organization is an auxiliary group of the U.S. Air Force and is comprised of volunteers, with chapters across the United States. The Civil Air Patrol helps with 95 percent of search and rescue missions in the United States.

Eric Lindgren of Alexandria, said Alexandria had a Civil Air Patrol squadron more than 30 years ago and that the new squadron fills a gap in this part of the state. The closest other squadrons are in St. Cloud and Brainerd.

Gallen Norris, squadron commander with the Alexandria patrol, said, "Our group fills a void from Crookston to St. Cloud."

There are 24 Civil Air Patrol squadrons in Minnesota, said Lindgren, who also is the emergency services officer, safety officer and the person in charge of the membership committee for the Alexandria squadron.

He noted the Civil Air Patrol can only be called out for duty by the Air Force or a county sheriff.

Twelve senior members and one active cadet belong to the Alexandria Squadron. Senior members are those 19 years or older, with cadets between ages 12 and 18.

The CAP is best known for its search and rescue efforts and flies in about 95 percent of all federal inland search and rescue missions, under the direction of the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. Although closely associated with the Air Force, there is no military obligation as a member of the Civil Air Patrol.

There are almost 1,800 units nationwide with approximately 61,000 members and more than 26,000 cadet members. The Civil Air Patrol has the largest fleet of single-engine, piston aircraft in the world and it maintains a fleet of 950 emergency services vehicles for training and mission support.

Alexandria squadron

The Alexandria Civil Air Patrol meets at 7 p.m. every Tuesday at Chandler Field at Alexandria Municipal Airport, 2604 Aga Drive. For more information about the Civil Air Patrol, visit its website at " target="_blank">

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. She enjoys running and has participated in nearly 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon distances.

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