Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mountain Fury - NorCal Mountain Flying Clinic

By Capt Louis Rivas and 2d Lt Brandy Ahearn (Squadron 92), photos by Maj Noel Luneau and Capt Rivas

CAP plane at MFC (photo by Maj Luneau)
CAP planes at MFC (photo by Maj Luneau)
One August weekend, CAP squadron members from Northern, Central and Southern California converged on Auburn Airport to take part in a CAP training exercise, the California Wing (CAWG) Mountain Flying Clinic (MFC). Squadron 92 in Auburn, CA hosted the MFC on August 16 & 17, 2014.  The MFC, also known as Mountain Fury, is an annual event to provide an opportunity for CAP Mission Pilots who are unfamiliar with flying in the high Sierra Mountains a chance to learn the critical techniques used to safely and effectively search in mountainous terrain.

The course is combination of academic work and flight training at elevations exceeding 8000’. The training includes weather interpretation, emergency maneuvers, and landing techniques at high altitude airports.

CAP plane at sunset (photo by Maj Luneau)
In addition to training pilots, the training mission provided an opportunity for the mission base staff to train in such areas as communications and operations.

Capt Joshua Edwards (photo by Capt Rivas)
Attending from Squadron 188 were Maj Noel Luneau, the Incident Commander, Maj Maggie Wang, a Mission Safety Officer Trainee, and Capt's Luis Rivas and Jeff Ironfield serving as Air Operations Branch Trainees.

A total of seven CAP aircraft were present, with five aircraft being utilized for training.

Mountain flying is different than flying in the valley areas due to all of the environmental conditions associated with mountain ranges, valleys and ridges, such as changes in air density, extreme weather and thunderstorms.  Each student was paired with a seasoned mentor pilot to teach them the proper techniques to conduct search and rescue in varied terrain and weather conditions and how to operate out of high mountain airfields.

Capt Ironfield, Capt Rivas, flight crew (photo provided
by Capt Rivas)
The weather conditions were ideal with only a little haze on day one, light to moderate winds. Thunderstorm activity did not start until after all the training missions were completed.  Day two presented a little more haze from fires around the area, and training concluded early afternoon, just before the thunderheads started building up over the Sierras.

The training at the MFC was invaluable and everyone involved was able to take away something new from the weekend.

It was a successful event that graduated a number of newly qualified CAP MFC qualified pilots. All of those chosen for the rigorous MFC passed their final check ride. Hooray! Because of their efforts, the CAWG was able to increase its operational capabilities.

A great big “Shout Out” from Squadron 188 to Auburn-Starr Composite Squadron 92, our host. Their members provided a first rate facility and a steady stream of refreshments, and generally made sure their guests had all they needed to conduct a successful MFC clinic. We look forward to working with them in the future.

CAP planes at the MFC (photo by Capt Rivas)

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