Former WRNF supervisor rates ‘copter training a high priority |

Former WRNF supervisor rates ‘copter training a high priority

The man who first approved helicopter training over the White River National Forest says training should be a “very high priority” on public lands.Former WRNF supervisor Richard Woodrow also served as a Marine fighter pilot in the 1950s.”The whole thing about being prepared when you go into combat is your training. The more technology enters into the picture these days, the more important training becomes,” he said.He said altitude makes a big difference in how helicopters perform. If a pilot trains in a helicopter at sea level and then flies in combat in Afghanistan at 10,000 feet, “it would be like flying a whole new machine,” he said.”I wouldn’t want it on my conscience that somebody cracked up a helicopter in combat because this country wouldn’t let them train in similar terrain.”Woodrow was WRNF supervisor from 1981-88 and is now retired in Glenwood Springs.He said he doesn’t recall if the agreement he approved with the National Guard allowed helicopters to land in the forest, or just fly over it. However, he said most of the high-altitude land in the United States is public land.”That’s where you’re going to have to do the training,” he said.Environmental groups contend that training should not occur over areas such as Red Table Mountain and Deep Creek because they are proposed for wilderness and wild river protective status, respectively. But Woodrow said environmentalists will do everything they can to seek wilderness designations, and the value of a place such as Red Table Mountain for helicopter training also should be taken into consideration before Congress decides whether to make it wilderness.

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