SouthWings 22nd Annual Fly-In
May 17-19, 2019

“You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you.”

-John Muir

IMG_4442We offer our heartfelt thanks to all who traveled to our annual Fly-In this year in idyllic Montreat, NC to celebrate SouthWings’ Volunteer Pilot Corps! SouthWingers luxuriated in abundant May sunshine in the heart of the southern Appalachian mountains. This year’s volunteer pilot fly-in celebration exceeded all expectations!

The main event was an auto-trek up Mt. Mitchell – the highest point in the eastern US – via the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. From the top, Ranger Carla Williams entertained (she was hilarious! Who knew Park Rangers were funny?) and educated us on the natural and human history of the range. Thanks to CAVU conditions, we were treated to immense views from the easily accessible mountaintop perch. A nature walk around the peak gave us a rich Balsam / Fir ecosystem experience found only at the very highest altitudes of the eastern U.S.


IMG_143AAEmeritus volunteer pilot Andy Meranda, a veteran North Carolina Forest Service Pilot, riveted the crowd with stories and images of his experiences directing aerial fire suppression missions in the western Carolina mountains.

Andy’s inspiring, first-hand accounts of his time directing tanker and helicopter fire fighting action elicited profound appreciation for all who put their lives on the line to protect human life and property.


SouthWinger and FAASTeam designate Emmet Bartholomew refreshed folks on best practices when flying low altitudes and slow speeds during aerial reconnaissance flights. Attendees picked up official WINGS credit toward proficiency and currency.

The laid-back itinerary included friendly cocktail hours and relaxed conversation, lovely patio dinners, and a dramatic high elevation walkabout; all intermingled with a series of illuminating staff and aviation presentations.


Graphic 2Adel Alamo’s artful and informative description of what YOUR volunteer flights have accomplished this year is a not-to-miss fly-in tradition. Take a moment to learn what you and your fellow volunteer pilots have been up to here.


Four retiring pilots:  Jack Lynch (NC), Jeff Justis (MS), Roy Zimmer (FL), and Andy Meranda (NC) were inducted into SouthWings’ first-ever class of Emeritus Pilots. Three of these four fine gentlemen were present to receive the crowd’s enthusiastic ovation. We salute their service!


Volunteer Pilot and SouthWings Board Member Hap Endler (NC) received the “Mauritson Award” – our highest honor for Volunteer Pilots.  Besides donating hundreds of flight hours to help our partners seek solutions to environmental challenges, Hap shares his talents, positive vision, and indomitable spirit with all. Congratulations Hap, thank you for being an invaluable member of the SouthWings family!


Finally, we’d like to express our deepest thanks to our sponsors whose generosity made this event possible.

Thanks to Patagonia, David Clarke Company, and Oskar Blues Brewery.

Sponsors 2

This one was epic! See you next year.

Until then, be safe and stay in touch!