Jay Burns of Clovis, a pilot in the Civil Air Patrol, sits inside a Cessna aircraft Saturday morning at the Clovis Municipal Airport. Burns, a flight officer joined the group two years ago to learn how to fly.
The Civil Air Patrol has three congressional mandates: Search and rescue operations, aerospace education and cadet training.
The Patrol assisted in a search and rescue mission when a glider in Colorado crashed near the Clovis area, said Clovis Civil Air Patrol Commander Capt. Richard Austin during an open house Saturday at the Clovis Municipal.
The patrol consists of 22 members, most of whom are former airmen, Austin said. The patrol also trains cadets from 12 to 20 years old.
Cadets receive leadership and aerospace training, learn about physical fitness and participate in community service activities.
Cadets who stick with the program are eligible to attend military academies such as the Air Force academy without congressional sponsorship, Austin said.
They are also eligible to learn to fly, which is what attracted Jay Burns, a Clovis High senior.
Burns, who credits relatives who took him in private planes when he was younger for his passion for flying, joined the patrol at 16.
After two years in the Patrol, Burns received his pilot’s license and has logged about 60 flight hours in the organization’s Cessna 172.
“I learned to fly with the Civil Air Patrol, which is a very unique opportunity that not very many people from high school can experience,” said Burns, who is qualifying to fly on Civil Air Patrol missions.
Burns has been the patrol’s only cadet, but Austin anticipates more to come after visiting with Marshall Middle School students last week.
Nathaniel Jones, 13, ran around the patrol’s hangar with his brothers during the patrol’s open house.
His mother, Arlise, said they came to the open house to register Nathaniel in the Patrol’s cadet program.
“He’s been wanting to do something like this since the fourth grade,” she said.
Nathaniel’s father, Stephen, said his son wants to follow in his footsteps and join the Air Force.
“He wants to be in the Air Force, but he wants to go in as an officer,” he said. “This counts as an ROTC program and gives him a leg up when he talks to a recruiter.”
Nathaniel said learning to fly also appeals to him.
“I’m excited about learning how to fly,” said Jones, who plays a flight simulator game on his computer.