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NC/VA "O" Flight Marathon

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Happy GA8 Crew Photo by: 1st Lt Dave Hutchenson (click image to view full size)
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Wings Combine to Complete 22 Sorties

10/25/2012––As the Change of Seasons ablaze with yellows, oranges and reds crept slowly eastward from the Blue Ridge Mountains, three red, white and blue CAP aircraft crossed the NC-VA state line destined for the Danville Regional Airport… 

Lt. Col Eugene F. (Gene) Jackson, VA Wing Director of Operations, was faced with a serious dilemma, his plans for a full day of Orientation (”O”)  Flights for the VA Wing’s Group 1 depended on the availability of six wing aircraft but three of them were sidelined for needed repairs. Although the parts were ordered—and according to the suppliers—the parts were shipped, they did not arrive. 

Jackson related, “I placed a call at the last minute to NC Wing Commander, Col.  David E. (Dave) Crawford. seeking assistance as he had the closest aircraft to us that were operational, and at 11pm that night, it was confirmed by the NC Wing Director of Operations, Capt. Shawn McComas, that NCWG was sending me three airplanes and four “O” ride pilots to compliment what was already here in Danville, VA,”

Col. Dave Crawford added, “"North Carolina is always ready to assist in executing CAP's missions, whenever and where ever we can. It is Middle East Region command policy to operate on a no borders, no boundaries basis, and as soon as Lt. Col. Jackson called for help, I reached out to my Operations Staff with the request—knowing that NC would be able to step up and deliver. I am very pleased that on short notice we were able to provide three aircraft along with four pilots to assist in making this activity a success. NC and VA have a long history of cooperation—and are now working together on the rollout of NC's glider program." 

Continuing, Jackson said, “At 6pm Friday night, we opened the Danville hangar to 29 cadets, six senior members and their camping gear arriving from the Lynchburg, VA Composite Squadron. Then, on Saturday, Oct. 20th, we had 5 more cadets from Holston Valley arrive with their commander, as well as several cadets and seniors from Danville. The cadets devoured 20 large pizzas Friday night and over 100 McDonald’s biscuits and 4 gallons of milk for breakfast. Gracious, these kids can EAT!  With the assistance of many seniors from around the area manning sign-in tables, charging coffee pots, running for food and beverages, filling in aircraft books and marshaling aircraft, the day went according to plan.

“Due to the cooperative actions of both the NC and VA Wings and the efforts of many, many people the day accounted for 82 cadet orientation flights. N605CP, N5383N, N989CP, N99832, N4813C and N963CP flew a combined total of 21.0 hours (not including any ferry time), 22 Orientation sorties were flown, 82 cadet orientation flights in total counting front and back seaters and 22 cadets received their first Cadet Orientation Flight. Over one half of those 22 first timers were cadets within their first 6 months of membership,” Jackson said. 

Expressing his support for this mission, Middle East Region (MER) Commander, Col. Larry J. Ragland noted, “The phrase ‘No Borders, No Limits’ is more than just a slogan.  It is the way in which our Wing Commanders see Civil Air Patrol in this region.  Each wing in MER is always ready to assist their neighbor.  But more importantly, each wing is actively seeking ways to serve our membership and our clients in the best way possible.  That includes thinking outside their own boundaries and sharing resources and expertise whenever possible.  NC Wing and VA Wing are two of the larger wings in MER that work well together and set the example all our MER Wing Commanders fully embrace.” 

The NC Wing’s Orientation Flight Coordinator, Maj. Tim Tessin said. “I have asked for and received support from VA for “O” rides in the past, so I jumped at the opportunity to return the favor. A scant 10 hours later I was in the air on the way to Danville, to support the VA Wing with three other pilots and two other airplanes.” Pilots from NC Wing included:  Capt. Don Williams. Capt. Rich Laviano, Capt. John Cole and Maj. Tim Tessin. 

The MER Vice Commander. Col. Rick Moseley added that this is a great success story for both wings.  “With a little bit of work the two wings were able to create quite an experience for a lot of cadets. 

Our thanks and congratulations to all of the members in involved on a job well done and for setting the example on what can be accomplished when we put aside borders and boundaries.” 

VA wing aircraft, including a Gippsland GA8 Airvan were flown by: Lt. Col. Gene Jackson and Maj. Calvin Chandler, Group I Commander.  

VA Wing Commander, Col. David Carter, summed up this highly successful mission saying, “The ability to pull off this "O" ride effort comes from the dedication of all involved: the Operations Staff, the pilots and the squadron members who brought the cadets to Danville.  The last minute save by the North Carolina Wing in sharing the use of their aircraft and pilots made something possible that looked like it was going to be cancelled.  My personal thanks go out to all of those that contributed time, effort and I am sure some money to make this happen.  The winners here are the cadets who got to fly.  Since they did, they are likely to stay with the program.  Well done!” 

Photos and Video by 1st Lt Dave Hutchenson, Danville PAO