Eau Claire Civil Air Patrol continues mission of volunteering - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Eau Claire Civil Air Patrol continues mission of volunteer service

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - There are many different ways to give back to your community, and some are better known than others. One of the highest flying may not be well known, but has helped out on several local law enforcement incidents. We took a look Friday at the Eau Claire Civil Air Patrol.

"We wore sun tans, and then we had fatigue greens. I had an Eisenhower jacket, that's a waist jacket," said Jon Case, radio control specialist for the Eau Claire Civil Patrol Squadron.

Jon Case was just 15-years-old when he joined the Eau Claire Civil Air Patrol Squadron in 1955.

These days, he oversees radio communications for the group. The non-profit is an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force made up entirely of volunteers. For decades, they've trained citizens to use aviation to aid area law enforcement.

"There's the emergency services part, which is a big part. And if there are lost people or downed aircraft, we go out and search for the lost people or the downed aircraft," Case explained.

When Jon began, planes were started by hand cranking the propeller. Decades later, it isn't just the uniforms that have been updated.

Jon says the biggest change he's seen in the Civil Air Patrol since his time as a cadet has been the technology inside the planes. Computer screens have replaced gauges and communication has been made a lot easier.

"We'd have canisters that we would have to drop a note in the canister, and it had streamers on it. So you'd fly over where the people where at, the ground team, and you'd have to drop messages in a canister with a streamer on it so they could see where it was coming," Case said.

But while some aspects of the Civil Air Patrol have changed, Jon says some parts are the same as they day he joined.

"They can come and learn about aviation, they can learn about emergency services, they can grow both physically and mentally with the program the Civil Air Patrol has got," Case added.

The Eau Claire Civil Air Patrol Squadron currently has nine cadets as well as more than a dozen adult volunteers. The agency is always interested in applicants. The U.S. Air Force supplies the planes and fuel for each of the chapters.

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