Friday, November 19, 2010

Wildfire affects flying, everyday operations at Moody

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Smoke fills the airspace around Moody as a swamp fire continues to burn in Clinch County, Ga. The fire has been burning for nearly two weeks, causing a cloud of smoke to engulf the base. All flying operations were cancelled for Nov. 19. Flying operations will resume when visibility increases and the smoke clears the airspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Wiseman) Hi-res

by Airman 1st Class Brigitte N. Brantley-Sisk
23rd Wing Public Affairs

11/19/2010 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Although weather conditions may occasionally alter flight operations, it's not usually for a prolonged period of time.

However, the 5,000-acre swamp wildfire in Clinch County, Ga., has been burning for more than a week and is why many of Moody's flying operations have been cancelled.

One of the first cancellations was Nov. 13, when some of the aerial acts for the Community Appreciation Day Air Show were unable to safely fly due to reduced visibility. The latest cancellations were Nov. 19.

"We cancelled all 16 of the A-10C Thunderbolt II sorties that were scheduled for today," said Lt. Col. James Clark, 74th Fighter Squadron commander. "These sorties included practice flights for the A-10 East Demonstration Team, local area orientation flights for new pilots and even air refueling training we had with an Air National Guard unit."

The call was made when visibility was as low as one-quarter to one-half of a mile. Pilots cannot fly when visibility is low because of safety issues, including their inability to see their environment as well as other aircraft.

Although the smoke impaired flying operations, not a single related safety incident has been reported to the 23rd Wing Safety Office.

"Because of the conditions, we just want to stress that everybody remain safe," said Trey Rowe, 23rd WG SO occupations safety and health specialist. "While driving, remember to use your fog lights but not your high beams. We haven't had any incidents and we would like to keep it that way."

In addition to no incidents, there also isn't an expectation the smoke will impair the safety of anybody's health.

"Because it's a swamp, the burning matter comprises trees and other plant matter," said 1st Lt. Michael Schmidt, 23rd Medical Group bioenvironmental engineer officer. "Although the smoke is thick, there's no anticipated health effect since the material that's burning isn't dangerous."

Another effect of the smoke being so thick was the PT test scheduled to be held the morning of Nov. 19 for a group of Moody members was cancelled.

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- With visibility reduced to less than one-quarter mile and flying operations halted for the day, the A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft parking ramp looks deserted Nov. 19. A swamp fire in Clinch County, Ga., has caused several flying operations to be cancelled, including in-flight refueling, sortie flights and A-10 East Demonstration Team flights. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Wiseman) Hi-res


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