Adults and youth wanting to learn more about an organization that helps conduct search and rescue missions for downed aircraft and lost people can do so Tuesday.
The Civil Air Patrol's Wheeling Composite Squadron is scheduled to hold an open house at 6 p.m. Tuesday at its headquarters at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport.
Maj. Paul McCroskey, squadron commander, said the event will allow prospective volunteers to learn more about the organization and also see the plane it uses for missions - a 2004 Cesna 182. McCroskey, a Colerain resident, said the squadron currently has 34 members, though not everyone is active. He hopes the open house will entice people to join.
Tiffanie Wilson, a former cadet with the Civil Air Patrol Wheeling Composite Squadron, gives a thumbs-up before taking her orientation flight with squadron commander Maj. Paul McCroskey in 2011.
''You don't have to be a pilot,'' McCroskey said, noting there are plenty of other jobs volunteers can help with. ''It's an opportunity to serve the community. We help people in downed airplanes and in the recovery of aircraft.''
He noted during the Ohio River floods of 2004 and 2005, the patrol took photos of flood damage from its airplane. The training for a variety of missions - including helping find lost Alzheimer's patients - is ongoing.
''You train all the time. You train until you're needed, and hopefully you're never needed,'' McCroskey said.
The group's youth members, or cadets, are 12 to 20 years old. Cadets learn leadership skills, discipline and also get to take orientation flights in planes. They also help in some aspects of emergency services provided by the squadron.
Founded a week before the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the patrol is an auxiliary unit of the U.S. Air Force.
There are 61,000 patrol members across the country. Patrol members nationwide helped save 54 lives in 2011. For more information about the local squadron, call McCroskey at 740-359-4516 or visit www.wheelingcap.org or visit the national website is www.gocivilairpatrol.com.