A cool morning with light ground fog starts Saturday (June 22) out for Civil Air Patrol (CAP) pilots participating in the Asheville Composite Squadron event known as Mountain Fury. The event is a flight training course which exposes CAP pilots to the safety and weather issues of flying and conducting search missions in the mountainous terrain of Western North Carolina.
However, by the time pilots received their mission briefings the fog had burned off, and they had a beautiful day to train. Twenty mission pilots, half of which were attending the training event for the first time, and eight CAP search and rescue aircraft participated. Pilots who had taken the course before flew first with experienced mountain pilots as a refresher, while first time attendees took classroom instruction and flew in the afternoon. In addition to the pilots, other CAP personnel helped out as aircraft marshalers, mission base staff or in communications.
“This makes them [the pilots] safer flyers in the mountains,” said Lt Col Ray Davis of Hendersonville, when asked about the benefits of the course. Davis recently received the Federal Aviation Administration’s Wright Brothers Award for 50 years of safe flying, and acted as Air Branch Director for the course. “Searching for a downed aircraft at 1,000 feet in the mountains is different than searching at a 1,000 feet in the flatlands.”
“We could be called upon to come up here and conduct searches or other types of missions in mountainous terrain and I want the skill set that teaches [that],” said Lt Col Dennis Faver from Southport, NC, when asked why he felt it was important to have the course. For Faver this is his first time at Mountain Fury.
1st Lt. Mike Drummond from Winston-Salem added that they were not that far from the Virginia line and could be called upon to help with searches in those mountains.
When asked if both class training and actual flying experience were helpful to their learning process at the course, Faver said, “I think that is the only way they can do it.” 1st Lt. Andy Vlac of the Raleigh Wake Squadron added, “There’s only so much you can learn from a PowerPoint presentation.”
This will be the seventh such training exercise conducted by the Asheville Squadron which in previous years have included pilots from Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. The event is named for the book, Mountain Fury, written by Bob Wright who was a member of the Asheville squadron.