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Asheville Member Trains Pilots In The Desert

Asheville member in Iraq
Arnie Andresen (Left) with fellow instructors at Kirkuk Air Base, Irag (click image to view full size)
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Arnie Andresen Trains Iraqi Air Force


The employer of Arnie Andresen, former PAWG DO and currently NCWG, Asheville Composite Squadron Emergency Services Officer dedicated the main classroom at the Iraqi Flying Training Wing school house “Arnie Hall” in recognition of his outstanding work as Senior Academic instructor. “In leading our Academic Instruction Program during a challenging period Arnie made a significant contribution to the huge improvement the company has achieved over the last six months” said Gerard “Skid” Rowe, Fixed Wing Operations Director. “Your support to the Iraqi Flight School was awesome,” commented Mark Richardson, Program Manager – Iraq for Integration Innovation, Inc.

Andresen has been in Iraq for the last eight months teaching Iraqi Air Force (IqAF) Lieutenants. He commented, “On the first day of training we start with ‘this is an airplane,’ and work from there. In the most recent class, sixty percent of the students had never driven an automobile. On the other end of the spectrum, we recently initiated a Pilot Instructor Training (PIT) program and now have several former students that are First Assignment Instructors Pilots (FAIPs) instructing in the school.” “The program is modeled after a USAF Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) program. However, unlike the UPT we use no computer based learning system. Everything is taught by a platform instructor. We taught every subject in the syllabus from basic aerodynamics to instrument flying in the Cessna Caravan (the advanced trainer). So far this year we delivered over one thousand classroom instruction hours.”

“Prior USAF experience was a prerequisite for the job and my experience in CAP met that requirement and came in very handy here.” said Andresen. “Fourteen of the seventeen school Cessna’s have a G1000 avionics suite and the rest have Garmin 530/430s. Having a lot of time in CAP G1000 aircraft was very helpful. But, also important, was the experience of working with volunteers who have jobs and families that take first priority. Although the Iraqi Air Force personnel are paid professionals they have a cultural based tradition called Mujas. This is the practice of taking frequent and (for us Western thinking folks) not well scheduled vacations. For cultural and security reasons the women of the family cannot do many of the chores required to run a home and family. Therefore, the men have to go home to take care of things like getting fuel for the generator, food shopping and home repairs. The lessons I learned in flexibility as DO, coordinating CAP volunteers and the operational requirements of customers, came in handy. The motto of my home Squadron in Asheville, NC, ‘Semper Gumby’ is a way of life here in Iraq.”

“It has been a privilege to contribute to the future of Iraq. There are a small number of experienced officers left in the Air Force. The students we are training will soon be replacing them as pilots and leaders of the IqAF which will be able to protect and serve the Iraqi people. Student Pilots come to the Flying School with at least a few years of college and as graduates of the Iraqi Military Academy. They arrive with good English skills, but by the time they graduate they have picked up not only aviation jargon, but expressions used by state side youngsters their age. Also like most CAP Cadets they understand their roles and responsibilities and the importance of education. I look forward to them achieving great things. Not all the students were young Lieutenants. Some were ‘Legacy Pilots re-activated into the IqAF from the Sadam era. They have been away from flying for some time, but boy did they have some stories to tell.”

“The IqAF Flying Training Wing uses two aircraft types. The Cessna 172D which is powered by the Thielert Diesel Engine. The use of a diesel was based on the scarcity of avgas. This is a great advantage but the demise of the Thielert Company soon after the twelve C172Ds arrives at Kirkuk caused another set of problems. The USAF advisors removed the back seats in order to lighten the aircraft and preclude carrying more than two soles. Performance, particularly at 40oC is less than the C172s we operate at CAP. They rarely ventured far from the base. The first airplane the students ever see is a glass cockpit. The advanced trainer is the Cessna C208B Caravan. Except for a few enhancements for combat zone operations it is a stock C208B very similar to the one I flew for one of the FedEx Feeders years ago. Three of them also had G1000 suites. My job was to do the classroom academic instruction so I got to interact with every student in the school.

“The living conditions were basic but livable… kind of like a CAP encampment. I called it a Flight Encampment in a war zone. I shared a twenty foot by twenty foot dorm-like room with three other instructors. It was air conditioned as were the classrooms. This was a necessity as it regularly hit over 110F. There was a central dining hall which was the center of social interaction and the food was very good. If you weren’t careful you could end up gaining weight. There were several gyms with good equipment where you could work some of it off.”

Integration Innovation, Inc. (i3) is a small business headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama specializing in a wide range of services including Global Flight Training and Aviation Support Services. Founded in February 2008, i3 has assembled a core group of expert engineering and technical professionals with decades of experience in the federal contracting marketplace.


Contact: Mr. Andresen can be reached at