NEWS | Nov. 9, 2016

MACA highlights Charleston airspace safety

By Airman 1st Class Kevin West Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Joint Base Charleston hosted its first Mid-Air Collision Avoidance event with local pilots to bring awareness to the program here Nov. 5, 2016. 

The event is anticipated to occur biannually with locations alternating between JB Charleston and Shaw Air Force Base. The MACA program brings together military and local community pilots to focus on flight safety. Avoiding a near miss and mid-air collisions is of the utmost importance. 

“Every Air Force safety office has a MACA program,” said Maj. Brian Butler, chief of flight safety from 437th Airlift Wing. “The purpose is to provide awareness of what we do here at Charleston and how we train. All of which impacts the local flying airspace we share with all the civilian aviation. By bringing these folks here to fly their own airplanes, we give them the opportunity to experience the military aspect for a day.”

Sharing the mission of JB Charleston with community civilian pilots offers a better understanding of why specific procedures are put in place. The event gives pilots, both military and civilian, a forum to discuss flying and aviation safety. 

“I’m a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, former commander and former wing group safety officer,” J.D. Nelson, lead pilot for LifeNet and Air Methods medevac helicopter. “I’m very familiar with the whole Air force program and emphasis behind all safety, flight safety in this case. We continue to look for ways to be safe in the air. My unit and the Air force JB Charleston unit operate in shared airspace frequently, so I see the value in the program and want, through the MACA program, to keep us all safe.”

Air safety is the key element behind the MACA program. It allows civilian and military pilots to understand each other’s missions.

“It’s great to have everyone out here and to learn about, not only what they do, what we do and why we have to do it,” said Capt. Jeffrey Riesterer, a pilot from the 15th Airlift Squadron,  “Also, to encourage open communications promoting aviation safety in the local area.” 

The MACA event gave pilots from both sides the opportunity to share their experiences and learn from each other. 

“It is a great opportunity,” said Butler. “The fly-ins in the civilian community is a great way for these people to come in and see each other’s airplanes, talk about flying and their experiences. A lot of what we learn as aviators is through experience. So it’s time in the airplane, but a lot of that is talking to other people, learning from other people’s experiences and taking those learning points and applying them to your own flying. Additionally, the interaction between the military and civilian pilots is great for our comradery.”