Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: September, 2011 (13) Currently Viewing: 11 - 13 of 13

September 24, 2011 at 7:06am

DOD officials designate Minot AFB as non-concurrent travel location

Minot Air Force Base, N.D., is now a non-concurrent travel location because of a continuing off-base housing shortage, Air Force Personnel Center officials announced.

Minot AFB is still under the stop movement order established when heavy flooding occurred in June, so this designation gives Airmen more family options when planning a permanent change of station to Minot AFB, said Bill Warner, the AFPC chief of assignment programs and procedures.

The order does not impact technical training graduates and new accessions who do not have dependent family members, but all others must get authorization to proceed. Authorization messages, which will be e-mailed from Minot AFB's military personnel section to the member's servicing personnel section, will also provide the concurrent travel decision and anticipated family travel delay.

Airmen's options depend on how long their families' travel will be delayed and on whether they are moving from a stateside or overseas location.

For members moving from a stateside location, if family travel is delayed for less than 20 weeks, family members are expected to stay at the current location until their travel is approved, Warner said.

"If they move," he added, "the government will not pay for that move."

Members whose families are delayed for more than 20 weeks have a couple of options, though. They may either stay at their current location or relocate to a designated location at government expense, Warner said.

Overseas returnees who are approved for non-concurrent travel have two options regardless of the length of their travel delay. Families can stay at the overseas location (which requires an approved dependents remaining overseas request), or they can move to a designated location at government expense.

Whatever their situation, family travel information will be spelled out, so Airmen must check their travel orders to ensure their situation is clearly identified and matches Minot AFB's designation.

"Regardless of family travel status, once Airmen are authorized to proceed to Minot AFB, they must meet their established reporting dates," Warner said. "Airmen must not move their families to Minot (AFB) without authorization reflected on their PCS orders or amendments. Once they have secured housing, they can work with the Minot (AFB) MPS to get an amendment to their orders."

Airmen who do not follow these procedures may lose government travel entitlements, Warner stressed.

Airmen who were authorized before Sept. 12 to move with their families may still proceed to Minot AFB, Warner said. All others must follow the new travel restrictions.

For more information about the stop movement order and non-concurrent permanent change of station to Minot AFB, Airmen should contact their current personnel section.

For information about other personnel issues, visit the Air Force Personnel Services website at

September 24, 2011 at 7:15am

McChord Airmen make first-ever mid-winter airdrop over South Pole

A C-17 Globemaster III Loadmaster, forward-based with the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at Christchurch, New Zealand,prepares to airdrop urgently needed medical supplies near the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station . The supply drop is part of Operat

For the first time in history, a C-17 Globemaster III assigned to McChord Field successfully completed a mid-winter nighttime airdrop at the South Pole.

Airmen from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings teamed up to airdrop urgently needed medical supplies Sept. 1 at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica.

The supplies will augment a South Pole medical team's treatment of an ailing civilian wintering there with the U.S. Antarctic Program.

"The mission went exceedingly well," said Lt. Col. Robert Wellington, 62nd AW Operations Group deputy commander. "This was basically a culmination of all the training we've completed over the past several years."

After being notified of the mission, Wellington established the Team McChord resources.

"Of course, my immediate feeling toward this mission was excitement," he explained. "We needed to find out the exact requirements for the mission to see if we would fulfill them. The most work came during the coordination stages."

Wellington assigned Maj. Rick Kind, C-17 weapons and tactics instructor pilot, to plan the mission with his crew.

"After we got the phone call," said Chief Master Sgt. Dave Masura, "we spent three days planning it. This is the first time we did a drop out of the door (rather than out the back) over Antarctica."

Masura, a Reservist with the 446th Airlift Wing, was one of four loadmasters on the mission.

Wellington, Kind and the Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica team worked closely with the National Science Foundation planners to execute the mission. Kind's prior experience benefited the mission.

"We usually do a South Pole airdrop mission during the summer months when conditions are ideal," said Wellington. "With all the training, we were more than prepared. Two years ago, Kind was on that flight. When this mission came around, he was already trained, certified and experienced in South Pole air-drop."

In addition to Kind, other experienced personnel were hand-picked to support the mission.

"We took the best of the best down there," said Staff Sgt. Kent Koerner, 4th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "Everyone really came together and operated as a team. We were working off of a good plan, and executed it as well as we could."

Other Reservists on the crew were Lt. Col. Rob Sawyer, a pilot, and loadmasters Masura, Senior Master Sgt. Terry Wolford and Master Sgt. Kathleen Disney.

The plan included a parachute-enabled C-17 air-drop of medical supplies in bitter cold and complete darkness using night-vision devices. Although JTF-SFA plans for such missions and trains for this requirement during the summer season, this is the first time a C-17 has attempted a mid-winter, nighttime airdrop at the South Pole, according to officials.

Since the South Pole has 24 hours of darkness during the polar winter, the use of night-vision goggles was essential for the mission, officials said.

"The routine use of night vision goggles is being exploited to overcome the operational challenges in Antarctica," said Wellington. "The plan we developed mirrored all of our previous training flights, except for those obstacles. And when we met those obstacles, we find solutions to work with them."

According to Kevin Schriner, an NSF contractor and network administrator at the South Pole, the air drop was a complete success. Both packages were dropped and recovered without damage. (Sandra Pishner, 446th AW Public Affairs, contributed to this report)

September 28, 2011 at 7:12am

C-17 still delivering hope, combat support after 20 years

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash., -- A C-17 takes off in the early morning hours from McChord Field, Wash. The C-17 Globemaster took its maiden flight in 1991. McChord Airmen from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings here have been flying C-17s since 1999. (U.S. Air Forc

Hundreds gathered here Sept. 15 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the C-17A Globemaster III's maiden flight -- from a manufacturing plant in Long Beach, Calif. to Edwards -- that took just over two hours.

Millions of flight hours later, the Globemaster has lived up to its name -- delivering its payload just about anywhere in the world.

"It allows us to deliver hope, fuel the fight and save lives," said Col. Andrew Ingram, C-17 System program manager at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

McChord Field received its first C-17 July 20, 1999. The aircraft at McChord Field are flown by Airmen from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings. The 7th AS was the first active-duty squadron to fly the C-17 out of McChord Field and the 728th Airlift Squadron was the first Reserve squadron at McChord to transition from the C-141 to the C-17.

Team Edwards has been a key to the success this airframe has had and continues to have.

Lt. Col. Clifton Janney, commander of the 418th Flight Test Squadron, which is responsible for testing the airlifter, said none of this would have been possible without the vision and innovation of a special team "dedicated to making sure those we send into harm's way have the best possible chance of returning to enjoy those liberties we call upon them to defend."

George London, co-pilot on T-1's first flight, also talked about that special team.

"When we made that first flight Sept. 15, 20 years ago, there was a shining light. That light was a C-17 taking off from Long Beach," he said.

And the power behind that light is the team -- comprised of the C-17 Combined Test Force at Edwards, the C-17 System Program Office, the Air Force, the Army and contractors McDonnell Douglas and Boeing, he said.

Calling the C-17 a national treasure, Ingram said the aircraft is America's airlift capability of choice.

"The Globemaster [since it became operational] has supported every major combat contingency that our nation has been involved in," he said.
C-17s are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan bringing needed supplies to the war fighter and airlifting wounded warriors to medical facilities and safety. The C-17 fleet also supports those who respond to disasters around the world.

During the last two decades, the workhorse transport started fast and shows no sign of slowing.

"Ten years in, the Air Force was operating a fleet of 81. Today seven countries and NATO operate 236 C-17s; 204 of those are employed by the Air Force," he said.

He said in the past 10 years the fleet of C-17s has flown 500,000 sorties, delivered more than 4.5 million passengers and transported just over 3 million tons of cargo to locations around the world.

"It took 15 years for the fleet to achieve its first million flight hours , but only five more years for it to achieve its second million. Last year the U.S. C-17 fleet flew an average of 599 flight hours a day," Janney said.

The C-17 continues to prove itself. Just last month it set a new airdrop world record with the delivery of an 85,000-pound Aries rocket test article.

When considering what the aircraft requires to meet the nation's challenges in the future, Janney said he's confident the C-17 team will meet those challenges and continue to advance this incredible weapon system.

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