Mountain Week Airstrips

Every June, JAARS Aviation Training takes new mission aviators to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina to practice mountain operations. This training experience is a critical part of developing the skills necessary to take God’s Word to the remote and hard-to-reach places of the world. During Mountain Week, orientees and instructors land and take off from four different grass airstrips, each of which sharpens the pilots’ skills in unique ways:

Brown International, McDowell County, NC: Owned by a local farmer, Brown has a bump mid-field that can launch the aircraft into the air prior to reaching flight speed, so pilots must manage their speed well. They also need to watch out for wind and trees.


Friendship Airstrip, Mars Hill, NC: Pilots can land in only one direction and must turn around to depart the way they came in. The slope prevents a pilot from seeing the far end from takeoff position.


Avery County Airport, Avery County, NC: Each year the group lays out a grass airstrip next to the paved runway to use during Mountain Week. Pilots must battle winds and fly in tight patterns due to rising terrain around the airport.


Strawberry Ridge Airstrip, Little Switzerland, NC: Probably the most challenging of the four, the one-way airstrip drops off on both sides and has visual illusions due to the slope’s steepness. The pilots don’t tackle this airstrip until the end of Mountain Week. When they do, local residents bring cookies and drinks and sit in lawn chairs to watch the show.