Aero Squadron

History & Origin

The Aero Squadron was organized in June 1949 under the auspices of Sheriff John Claussen, by Dick Bridgeford, Jack Bergin and Caesar Bertagna. Those three men, all veterans of World War II, started Bridgeford Flying Service at the Napa Airport. Those three were soon joined by members of the Napa Flying community and formed a full squadron. The members of the squadron, then as well as the Aero Squadron present day, come from all sectors of the community. There have been and still include:

  • Accountants
  • Construction Workers
  • Doctors
  • Lawyers
  • Morticians
  • Ranchers
  • Retired Peace Officers

 In other words, they represent a general cross section of the Napa community with two main commonalities; a love of flying and a desire to voluntarily serve their community.

The squadron members offer their time and aircraft to local law enforcement agencies free of charge. The members maintain a regular training schedule including practice air search and rescue missions. The mission of the squadron is to provide aerial surveillance observing various criminal activity, prisoner transportation and transportation services for sheriff activities. The squadron has provided transportation all over California and to:

  • Arizona
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Wyoming


To serve the Napa County Sheriff's Office by providing aeronautic support to aid in the successful completion of Search and Rescue, and Law Enforcement missions on an 'as needed' basis.


Napa County Sheriff's Aero Squadron (NCSAS) is a volunteer organization, which serves as an auxiliary unit of the Napa County Sheriff's Office.

NCSAS is made up of Pilots who use their personal aircraft to accomplish missions provided by the Sheriff, and Observers who accompany pilots to assist in Search and Rescue operations, vehicle tracking, and to perform non-flight operations necessary to complete a successful mission

Services Provided to the Napa County Sheriff's Office

  • Assist Napa County Search and Rescue (SAR) with aircraft to accomplish multiple goals: From providing eyes in the sky able to search areas inaccessible to ground searches, to providing an advanced airborne relay station to facilitate consistent communication to ground teams and allow 100% GPS searcher tracking
  • Air surveillance
  • Air transport of personal to remote emergency locations
  • Personal and/or executive transport

Other Functions of the NCSAS

The NCSAS also belongs to a larger umbrella association known as Western States Sheriff's Air Squadron Association, which provides training and competitions between many other Sheriff's Air squadrons throughout the western United States. There also is involvement in community events to assist the Napa County Airport.

Requirements to Be a Pilot With NCSAS

  • Be a licensed pilot with current medical, with ready access to an aircraft that seats a minimum of two but preferably four total people
  • Fill out a application, pass a "Live Scan" automated records search and a background check by the Napa County Sheriff's Office
  • Possess a spirit willing to follow instructions and guidelines required of NCSAS and the Sheriff's Department.
  • Make sincere effort to attend monthly meetings every third Thursday of each month.