‘Hot Chili’ fires up ‘203 pilots’ skills

1 Aug 2013 | Pfc. Mike Granahan

Members of Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 from Cherry Point traveled to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., for AV-8B Harrier training July 23.

Marines from the squadron travel to MCAS Yuma as detachment ‘Hot Chili’ to immerse themselves in its expansive training ranges which provide opportunities that include the ability to drop live and full-weight ordinance.

“It’s beneficial for the students to train there because the ranges are much more extensive,” said Maj. Mike Cicchi, the assistant operations officer for VMAT-203. “The ability for pilots to drop live and full-weight ordinance is an essential part of training because munitions that size have an effect on the handling characteristics of the aircraft.”

The training creates realistic scenarios preparing students for the rigors of flying with a full load of ordinance and operating in a desert environment.

“In past years Marines have fought and continue to fight in desert environments.” said Capt. Trevor J. Felter, the logistics officer for VMAT-203. “Things such as exposure to hot temperatures, which MCAS Yuma provides, can affect the handling characteristics of an aircraft. These experiences are beneficial to creating the overall attack pilot.”

The change in venue offers pilots experience in a different environment, further increasing familiarity with the aircraft.
“It exposes them to different terrain and climate conditions, it is always beneficial to change venues and experience something new,” said Cicchi.

The use of live ordinance provides students with deeper understanding of the munitions they will use in real-world scenarios.

“The training helps to create more well-rounded pilots by also exposing the students to some of the same ordinance they would use in combat,” said Felter.

The training is important in the overall creation of attack pilots and is an integral part of the collective experience a pilot needs to be successful in the operating forces, said Felter.
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point