DARE COUNTY, N.C. (NNS) -- The Navy Dare Bombing Range, located in Dare County, N.C., held its annual open house July 16, to allow local residents and guests a chance to observe routine training operations.
Managing the range since it opened in 1968 and presiding over the day's festivities was Harry Mann, the Navy Dare Bombing Range supervisor.
"[The event] gets the local people in so they know what's out here. It shows them the pilots know what they are doing so when they see a plane over their home they know they're safe."
Mann and his staff work in conjunction with Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Virginia Capes (FACSFAC VACAPES) to ensure that the bombing range provides pilots and air crew the training they need, while keeping the evolutions as safe as possible.
"I've seen many pilots come through here, and we've gotten not one letter saying we didn't do what we were supposed to," said Mann. "In 41 years our crew has had no accidents."
The Navy Dare Bombing Range has a significant impact on the Navy's ability to stay mission ready and continue to provide maritime security and support to ground forces around the world.
"This range is critical," said Cmdr. Paul Beckley, FACSFAC VACAPES commanding officer. "This gets our pilots ready to be able to surgically hit targets and have a larger impact on the battlefield, while limiting collateral damage. Having people come out allows the public to watch us deploy our weapons systems and see what we are doing with their tax dollars."
Through the years, the range has had to adapt to changes in technology and aircraft to ensure that the pilots are getting the training they need. Mann has been there every step of the way.
"When I started, there were free-fall bombs," said Mann. "Now they have laser-guided bombs that are so accurate it's like 'which window in your automobile do you want it.' We used to have to pull up banners that held the targets and when the pilots got done we would mark the hits on the banners with magic markers. Now we can tell the pilots where the bomb hit in two seconds, so they can react to the wind if they were off target."
Mann and his staff have been so efficient through the years, they don't even require much in the way of supplies to keep the range up and running.
"[Mann is] very resourceful," said Cmdr. Steve Finco, the director of operations for FACSFAC VACAPES. "[He] and his team use military surplus and salvage materials. They fabricated a MiG 29 themselves that looks real from the air. He certainly makes my job a lot easier."
The pilots coming to use the Navy Dare Bombing Range certainly notice all of the hard work put in by Mann and his staff.
"When I talk to air crews, they are always really appreciative of the training here," said Finco. "It makes me feel good that we have trained them for any and all contingencies, so we can make sure that everyone comes back."
Year after year, the Navy Dare Bombing Range open house has allowed people to see the great work being done by Mann and his staff and the necessary training that goes on there every day.
For more news from Commander Navy Region Mid Atlantic, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrma/.