Misawa aims for fewer wrecks with ‘Slippery Weasel’ course
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Staff Sgt. Trent Mall believes he has a good reason for wanting to be an instructor in the new “Slippery Weasel” winter driving course here.
“I don’t want people to hit my car,” he said of his prized 1994 Subaru WRX.
Mall said that each person he teaches to drive on ice and snow means one less person to worry about on the roads.
And he has reason to worry: Misawa base residents rack up an average of more than an accident a day each January and February. To help combat the problem, the 35th Fighter Wing’s safety office created the new voluntary training course, putting a vacant lot on Security Hill to use with three separate tracks.
On Jan. 15, they ran the first course, certifying additional instructors and allowing a handful of participants to slip, slide and skid their way through three training sessions.
The group spent an hour in a classroom before driving their own cars to the course.
“That was real fun,” Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Clark said following his turn on the oval track.
He said he had been steering into the turns to get the back end of his car to slide.
“That’s the purpose of the course — to adjust when the car loses traction to regain traction,” he said. “That’s the whole purpose of what we’re doing here.”
Japanese media — and some city officials — were on hand to observe, which was important, said Col. RC Craig, the wing’s vice commander.
“We’re going to make sure that we not only train our folks to be able to drive in these conditions, but also to let the community to know that we’re doing everything we can to be able to reduce the number of accidents Americans have.”
To sign up for the course, contact the safety office at DSN 226-3453.