Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: February, 2012 (24) Currently Viewing: 11 - 20 of 24

February 11, 2012 at 7:44am

446th Airlift Wing Reserve pilots share eye-opening experience with minority youth

Ron Limes and Kimberly Scott aren't the first African-American pilots in the Air Force- and their plans are not to be the last.

The lieutenant colonels from the 446th Airlift Wing displayed that goal during a question and answer panel at the 3rd Annual Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson Aerospace Memorial Program Day at the Seattle Museum of Flight, Feb. 4, 2012.

The purpose of the MPA program, also known as "Keep the Dream Alive," is to provide minority students, grades six through nine, exposure to professions in science, engineering, technology, and math through inspiration. But being Citizen Airmen, the colonels also represented the 446th AW as another avenue for the students to take.

"I think serving in the military is honorable," said Limes, who flies out of the 97th Airlift Squadron. "I want to let kids know that. If I can steer a young man or woman toward a life of service to this country, I think it'd very rewarding."

According to Limes, this is only one way to get the Reserve mission out to the public.

"Part of our mission at the 446th is community outreach and this is just one arm of it," said Limes, a pilot with Alaska Airlines in his civilian career. "It's kind of crazy. A lot of people don't even know we're here. We're not only bringing awareness that we're here, but we're also major players who contribute a lot more than people realize. There may be one, two, or three of those kids who will say, 'I can be a Reservist and pursue my civilian career.' There are so many avenues in being a Reservist," he added.

Scott, who flies out of the 728th Airlift Squadron, uses these events to brag about the Reserve as much as she can.

"I really enjoy representing the Air Force Reserve," said Scott, who also flies for Alaska Airlines. "I enjoy my job and enjoy sharing my experience. It's great to share my job with the 446th with young people."

Limes recalls his response to one of the questions during the panel.

"One question was 'what barriers did I have to overcome in my career?'" said the 12-year Reservist. "In the audience we had Tuskegee Airmen, retired general officers, and other African-American military members who had already broken down the (racial) barriers for me. Thankfully, because of them, those paths were already paved for me. My only obstacles were to get it done."
The panel was only a segment of what the day entailed, said Scott, who is only one of two African-American female C-17 Globemaster III pilots in the Air Force.

The youth had the opportunity to learn about who Anderson was, and his vision for reaching out to children in the community, said Scott. Then, they met with aerospace mentors and volunteers, got to learn about space shuttle aviation missions where they got to plan and simulate flight plans, listen to guest speakers from diverse backgrounds, and got to experience the screening of a documentary on the Tuskegee Airmen film, "Red Tails."

"The kids had a private session with Dr. Bernard Harris, a former astronaut," said Scott. "He really engaged with them about how he achieved his dreams, and answered questions about what it is like to travel through space."

Although they weren't able to promote the 446th AW mission as much as they wanted, Limes and Scott feel they still brought awareness to the wing and the experiences of being Reservists.

"I got feedback from a few students who wanted more information on what I do and how I did it," he said. "It sparked more questions about joining the Reserve."

Scott gave the audience an insight of how the pilots balance their military and civilian careers.

"The panel provided audience members with a good understanding of Citizen Airmen, as (Limes) and I discussed how we were in the Reserve and also employees of Alaska Airlines," she said.

In the future, Limes plans on getting more participation from Reservists in the wing.

"Hopefully, we can have more Reserve participation in the future," he said. "We always need volunteers. If we could get Reserve leadership to take part in these events to see what we're doing for community outreach, it would be amazing."

Limes feels Reservists have the obligation to be involved in the community to help shape a better future.

"We touched 60 kids in the community by letting them know they can accomplish their dreams," he said. "My goal is to let them know that professional dreams are available and possible. I think we, as military members, have a responsibility to reach out to kids and this is a great way to do it."

PHOTO: SEATTLE- Both adults and youth who participated in the Keep the Dream Alive event through the Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson Aerospace Program, stand in front of the memorial at the Seattle Museum of Flight, Feb. 4, 2012. One of the activities of the event was the Reaching your Potential Panel which 446th Airlift Wing Reserve pilots, Lt. Col. Ron Limes and Lt. Col. Kim Scott participated in, along with other guests. The purpose of the event was to give youth inspiration and opportunities to achieve their goals, while also bringing awareness to the Air Force Reserve. (photo courtesy of Seattle Museum of Flight)

February 14, 2012 at 7:39am

Star Trek fan becomes first African-American female to fly U-2

By the time Merryl Tengesdal graduated from the Navy's flight aviation program in 1994, the early women aviation pioneers like Bessie Coleman, Janet Bragg, Willa Brown and Mae Jemison had pretty much broken the barriers for race and gender.

But after the Bronx native switched to the Air Force a decade later, she helped rewrite the aviation and Air Force history books by becoming the first African-American to fly the U-2 reconnaissance plane.

Inspired as a young girl by the Star Trek movies of the 1970s and '80s, Tengesdal went on to excel in math and science in high school and took that interest into college where she earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of New Haven, Conn.

After graduating from college, Tengesdal traveled to San Diego where she applied for and was accepted into the Navy's flight aviation program and would spend the next 10 years as a helicopter pilot flying the SH-60B Sea Hawk on missions in the Middle East, South America and throughout the Caribbean.

In 2004 Tengesdal switched to the Air Force where she made a dramatic change from helicopters to flying at altitudes of as much as 70,000 feet for hours at a time flying the U-2 reconnaissance plane. "I was one of five women in my class and the only female that graduated," said Tengesdal. "I just stayed focused as I went through the training process."

Tengesdal said the U-2 is one of the more difficult aircraft to fly, and is designed for high altitude, with a long wingspan and a landing gear with two wheels rather than three. "When you land, you actually have to stall the aircraft at two feet because of the wings." Tengesdal said that some of her best moments as a U-2 pilot have come during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, along with Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa where she was able to provide troops on the ground with information obtained from her flights.

Tengesdal is a senior pilot with more than 3,200 flying hours, with more than 330 of those in combat. She is currently a lieutenant colonel assigned to Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

February 15, 2012 at 6:53am

McChord Reservists maintain excellence with distinguished award

Air Force Reserve Command recognizes two 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Reservists for their outstanding hands-on maintenance work.

Staff Sgt. Francis Aguon and Mr. Michael Harris are 2011 recipients of the Lieutenant General Leo Marquez Award in the Aircraft Maintenance category. An awards board of air and joint staff maintenance managers chose Aguon and Harris as winners of the Technician and Civilian Technician categories, respectively.

"I'm flattered," said Aguon, who works as an aircraft maintenance technician. "My mind was on Airman Leadership School and pinning on staff sergeant, plus I just got my (career development course books) and now I'm focused on that. The award was definitely a surprise!"

Aguon, a Reservist since 2007, is pursuing his goal of accruing more points for his Post-9/11 G.I. Bill with temporary duty assignments and deployments, and completing his 7-level CDC's. He earned his nomination for the Marquez Award thanks to his maintenance work in Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, supporting Operation New Dawn and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

Harris, who also serves as a Reserve technical sergeant, works as a propulsion Air Reserve technician. His expertise during Operation Deep Freeze, Antarctica, along with some skillful troubleshooting during a TDY to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, garnered him the AFRC recognition.

"I had known that I had been selected at the 4th Air Force level, but was shocked to hear I had won at the AFRC. That's pretty awesome," said Harris. "My bosses sure do know how to write!"

The central point of the Marquez Award is to honor Air Force members, both military and civilian, who excel in technological maintenance. The individual's job performance, application of knowledge on the job site, and workplace efficiency are all considered.

The award was named for retired Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics and Engineering, whose 33-years of dedication to the maintenance and logistics career field revolutionized the way they do business. Gen. Marquez passed away Dec. 30, 2011, at 79.

The 446th Airlift Wing will recognize both Aguon and Harris at the Annual Awards Banquet in March.

PHOTO: Mr. Michael Harris, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, who also serves as a Reserve technical sergeant, positions a flightline fire extinguisher near a C-17 Globemaster III at McChord Field, Wash., Feb. 11, 2012. Harris is a 2011 recipient of the Lieutenant General Leo Marquez Award in the Aircraft Maintenance category. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Rachael Garneau)

February 16, 2012 at 6:22am

Enrollment for free culture course ends Feb. 29

Registration for the spring "Introduction to Culture" course, an online self-paced undergraduate course that helps enlisted Airmen improve their cross-cultural competence, ends Feb. 29.

The course explores subjects such as elements of culture, family, gender, religion, belief systems, sports and other cultural domains. It also helps Airmen operationalize this knowledge through cross-cultural communication, relations and conflict resolution.

"ITC students should anticipate a similar amount of work to any other in-residence college-level course," said anthropologist Patricia Fogarty, the lead course developer. "Some students find ITC challenging, particularly those who expect it to be a computer-based training course. They also tell us it's engaging, interesting and relevant to their work."

Three hundred seats remain for this general education course which fulfills three resident hours of either social science or program elective credit required for CCAF degrees. Only enlisted active duty, Air Reservists or Air National Guardsmen who are eligible to pursue a degree in the Community College of the Air Force program may take the course.

Although the course provides CCAF credits, that's not the main benefit, according to one Air Force noncommissioned officer.

"I liked the in-depth analysis of each of the topics, and the way it related specifically to the military, and actual situations we might face in a deployed environment or overseas assignment..." said Staff Sgt. Russell Delaney, a recent ITC graduate from the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron. "It helped me to better understand how this information could be applied to a real-life scenario I might face in the future, both personally and professionally."

ITC is one of two online courses AFCLC offers that result in college-credit. The other course is Introduction to Cross-Cultural Communication. Registration for CCC course will begin April 5.

These courses, including all instructional material, are provided at no cost, and delivered via AU's web-based Blackboard Learning Management System. Internet access is required.

For the latest information on courses and other resources, see the AFCLC's public website at www.culture.af.mil, and click on the "Culture Education/QEP" tab, or follow the AFCLC on twitter at www.twitter.com/afclc.

February 17, 2012 at 6:35am

McChord's 446th AW command chief to retire

After dedicating almost 33 years to the Air Force Reserve, Chief Master Sgt. Gloria Bennett, 446th Airlift Wing command chief, will retire and pass on her duties to Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Mack, March 31.

Mack, currently the 86th Aerial Port Squadron first sergeant, will begin his new duties April 1.

"Gloria Bennett's leadership, professionalism, integrity, and enthusiasm have set the standard for (Reservists) in the 446th AW," said Col. Bruce Bowers, 446th AW commander. "We will miss her leadership and I will miss her counsel. Senior Master Sgt. Mack, a longtime wing member, has dedicated his life to serving and will be an invaluable asset to all at Team McChord."

Bennett reflected on her experience as she passes the torch.

"Being able to represent the enlisted Reservists of the 446th is an incredible honor and a highlight of my career," the Olympia native said. "The wing has a long-standing reputation for excellence and is well known for its professional and dedicated people, who excel in all facets of its mission. Selected from a broad range of highly-qualified candidates, Sergeant Mack's combination of passion, will, and caring attitude, allowed him to rise to the top. He will continue to make a positive and tremendous impact on the enlisted force in the wing."

Mack discussed his goals for the wing's future.

"Developing Airmen is the core purpose of the enlisted force," the 22-year Reservist said. "Colonel Bowers has entrusted me to collaborate with wing leadership to lead some of the finest Airmen in the world. This new position will also allow me to continue the tradition of honor and excellence in the 446th AW. The ‘weekend warrior' stigma is gone and it's my job to help train citizen Airmen to execute the global airlift mission on a daily basis."

Bennett has spent her entire career, which began in 1979, at McChord. She was assigned to the 446th Field Maintenance Squadron, 446th Military Airlift Wing, McChord Air Force Base, as a jet engine mechanic. She worked on C-141 Starlifter aircraft and was the assistant maintenance superintendent during the transition to the C-17 Globemaster III.

Mack has also been at McChord his whole career. The Lacey resident enlisted in the Reserve in 1986 and was assigned to the 446th MAW as a heavy airlift aircraft technician, working on C-141s. His first sergeant experience started in the 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron after spending 11 years in the aircraft maintenance field. He has been with the 86th APS since 2008.

February 18, 2012 at 6:29am

AF identifies career fields eligible for crossflow

Support officers in some overmanned career fields may be eligible to volunteer for retraining into an undermanned career field in support of the Air Force 2012 nonrated line officer crossflow program.

Applications for the program will be accepted Feb. 17 through March16.

Crossflow is one of various initiatives implemented in an ongoing effort to balance the force, said Joseph Marchino, the Air Force Personnel Center special duty assignments branch chief.

"Officers have always been able to crossflow into other career fields, but until last year, it was a less formal process," Marchino said. "Each request was considered on its own merit, with coordination between the losing and gaining career field teams. This program formalizes procedures to ensure the process is fair and competitive for all affected officers."

Last year, 73 officers crossflowed into the control and recovery, air liaison, intelligence, public affairs, developmental engineer and acquisition manager career fields.

This year, officers from year groups 2001-2004 in the following career fields are eligible to volunteer for crossflow: weather, cyberspace operations, aircraft maintenance, munitions and missile maintenance, logistics readiness, security forces, force support, behavioral scientist, chemist, physicist, financial management and special investigations.

Officers from year groups 2005-2008 in the munitions and missile maintenance, security forces, behavioral science, chemist, physicist, and special investigations career fields are also eligible to volunteer.

To date, according to Marchino, the intelligence career field has more than 150 openings for crossflow candidates and public affairs has 20 openings.

The AFPC special duty assignments branch will accept applications through March 16. A panel of five colonels representing affected career fields will convene the week of March 26 to select volunteers for crossflow.

"We are accepting volunteers for this program, but if we don't have enough volunteers to fill available training quotas, non-volunteer selections may be necessary," Marchino said. "Officers selected will be notified in early April and could begin reporting as early as June."

Some officers within the eligibility year group and career fields are not eligible to apply, including officers with an established date of separation, those with quality control indicators, those enrolled in advanced degree and other developmental programs, sitting commanders and officers selected for command, officers with cyberspace defense, nuclear and psychological operations qualifications, and others, Marchino said.

"Officers should carefully review the crossflow eligibility and application messages to determine if they are eligible before beginning the application process," he said.

For more information on the crossflow program, including exemptions and application instructions, or information on other personnel issues, visit the secure Air Force Personnel Services website at https://gum-crm.csd.disa.mil.

February 18, 2012 at 6:32am

Airmen can account for family members from their smartphone during a crisis or natural disaster

Software developers have created a new mobile Web application that allows total force Airmen the ability to account for themselves and family members from their smartphone during a crisis or natural disaster.

During a crisis, the Air Force uses the Air Force Personnel Accountability and Assessment System to account for and assess the needs of the Air Force's Total Force -- active-duty Airmen, selected Reserve members, Department of the Air Force and non-appropriated fund civilian employees, Air Force contractors (assigned overseas) and family members.

AFPAAS becomes operational, or active, at leadership request during crises to allow the total force to account for themselves and their family's safety and whereabouts. Now individuals have improved access through certain smartphones to the accountability and assessment features of AFPAAS.

"The Air Force is taking AFPAAS to the next level to align with what is used in the private sector every day," said Brian Angell, the Air Force Personnel Center Personnel Readiness Cell operations chief. "This wireless capability enhances Air Force accountability during crises and natural disasters."

In the case of an active AFPAAS event, members can use a smartphone to log into the application via their user identification and password. The application is accessible on iPhones, Androids and certain touch-screen Blackberry phones; however it is not available on iPads or non-touch-screen phones.

Once logged in, users can account for themselves and their family members. Other available functions include the ability to update sponsor and evacuation contact and location information as well as complete a needs survey if necessary.

The mobile Web app uses the browser on the phone versus downloading an application and uses the same URL as AFPAAS, said Donna Williamson, the lead developer with SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific. The site recognizes the person is using a smartphone and will present the site in a mobile format.

The Air Force recently tested the application and shared their findings with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Pacific, which will make updates and improvements to the application as necessary. As AFPAAS improves, so will the application and functionalities.

Each military service uses their own Department of Defense-funded application to assist with their specific personnel accountability and assessment system during a crisis or natural disaster.

When there is not an on-going event, officials said the total force should keep their contact information updated by logging into the secure AFPAAS website from a personal computer at https://afpaas.af.mil.

February 18, 2012 at 6:36am

Team McChord stays prepared with MOBEX

The 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings and 627th Air Base Group conducted a mobility exercise Feb. 10 - 17 to improve the ability to survive and operate, solidify mobility processes and strengthen the ability to complete missions under adversity in preparation for an Operational Readiness Inspection in October.

"The main goal of this week's exercise is to provide an overall training opportunity," said Capt. Brian Dodson, 62nd AW deputy chief of exercises and evaluations. "The objective was for people to walk away having learned something they can apply during the ORI."

This exercise marked the first opportunity for the 62nd and 446th AWs and 627th ABG to train together in preparation for the 2012 ORI.

"Training together was an important aspect of the big picture," said Dodson. "This opportunity was extremely valuable and beneficial."

The team spent the week operating in a simulated deployed environment with a pause for training days in between. During the training, Airmen received various informative briefings from experts on topics such as self-aid and buddy care, chemical decontamination and flightline driving.

"I've personally noticed many improvements and beneficial teachings during this exercise," said Staff Sgt. Ken Thomas, 62nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician. "People seemed more on track and ready to apply their previous experience. The communication has definitely improved."

According to Dodson, the team has areas to focus on for the coming exercises, but is satisfied with performance during this week's exercise.

"I feel that the goals and objectives set out for this week have been achieved," said Dodson. "We've noticed improvement each day as people were learning. Now, we have a good knowledge base to work from and we can continue to move forward."

Now that the MOBEX has successfully been completed, Team McChord will continue to maintain the same mission ready procedures to prepare for the fly-away exercises in May and September.

Photo: Airmen assigned to the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings and 627th Air Base Group take equipment to work areas during a mobility exercise Feb. 17, 2012, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The exercise was conducted to improve the ability to survive and operate, solidify mobility processes and strengthen the ability to complete missions under adversity in preparation for the Operational Readiness Inspection in October. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Leah Young)

February 18, 2012 at 6:38am

McChord Reserve Ravens ready to deploy

Anyone aware of the Phoenix Raven program mission knows Air Mobility Command aircraft and crews are in good hands, regardless of where the mission takes them.

Just ask Master Sgt. Carlos Duell and Tech. Sgt. Ric Shumate, Raven team Reservists with the 446th Security Forces Squadron.

The two of them combined have notched more than 200 missions in more than 80 countries and five continents. And over the next month, you can add at least three more.

"I try to fly a Raven mission at least three to four times a year," said Duell, who works as a transportation officer for King County Corrections. "My employer supports me."

Duell, also the Raven Program manager for the 446th SFS, is gearing up to support Cornet Oak, a year-round Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard operation, in which aircrews deploy from the United States to Muniz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico, to provide theater airlift support for the U.S. Southern Command.

For those not familiar with how critical the Raven mission is, Shumate provides a quick rundown.

The program was born in 1997, said the Lacey resident. Raven teams are made up of anywhere from two to six security forces members and provide security for AMC assets at locations and air fields that don't have adequate security. Once the aircraft lands in that particular area, the Ravens provide force protection for the aircraft and the aircrew. If they ever leave the aircraft in the air fields, they'll search it before the aircrews enter the aircraft, he added.

Both Duell and Shumate believe the combination of their military and civilian backgrounds, give Reserve cops an advantage in missions like these.

"It's awesome," said Duell, a Reservist since 1989. "Just dealing with personnel at my job gives me good verbal communication skills, because I deal with inmates all day long. Getting people to do things they don't want to do without them knowing it is a great skill, because that eliminates having to use physical force."

Shumate is a Port of Seattle police officer and bomb technician, who also values his Reserve and civilian law-enforcement training to apply to his Raven duties.

"As a Reservist and a civilian police officer, I go through a lot of training on both sides," said the 15-year Reservist. "You can work 12, 14, 16 or 18 hours. You have to be mentally and physically alert. You can do a three-day mission that ends up getting extended because of a broken aircraft or a mission changed. You can't always plan for what a mission says it needs. You always have to plan ahead. You have to be physically and mentally ready for those demands. It's an evolutionary-type of mission."

As his squadron's former Phoenix Raven Program manager, Shumate believes missions such as Cornet Oak provide good opportunities for Reserve cops.

"It's a real unique opportunity," he said. "We're going to places we'd otherwise never have an opportunity to. We're doing something that most cops don't do, but we get to do it in a different environment. What's cool about it is you are on your own, so you have to make the decisions on how you're gonna provide security for that aircraft. It also gives more exposure to what the big Air Force does and how we impact international-national relations. It's a nice career-enhancing step and pathway. It's more than just an EPR bullet."

Although being part of this unique team can be a career enhancer for a Reservist, it needs to mean more than that to the Airmen.

"It's not like you get a prize at the end of your shift," said Duell. "You have to want to go out there, knowing you're sometimes gonna work long hours, long days and sometimes it won't be rewarding. For cops, knowing that things are good for you means no one's crossed through the wire, the aircraft is still intact, and the personnel you're around are still safe. If everyone walks away, we all win."

photo: Master Sgt. Carlos Duell (standing), 446th Security Forces Squadron Phoenix Raven Program manager, provides cover while a security forces Airman secures a hostile during an operational readiness exercise at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Main, Feb. 15, 2012. Duell, who's been with the 446th Airlift Wing since 1989, has been on numerous missions which have taken him to more than 80 countries. He plans to participate in more Raven missions in March. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle)

February 19, 2012 at 5:52am

Weather forecasters important to mission success in Afghanistan

Mission ready. Not if the weather forecasters said it's a no go. An often overlooked Air Force Specialty Code is the weather forecaster. Who hasn't anguished over a weather forecast gone wrong or at an umbrella left in a stand because the forecaster predicted sunshine?

"Mother Nature is unpredictable sometimes," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Thorn, a 451st Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron weather observer, deployed from Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Wis.

Weather forecasting might be an imperfect science, but instead of hand-held pressure gauges that resembled Grandpa's box camera, mankind has progressed to satellites and computer systems to more accurately calculate weather trends.

"We use a combination of weather machines and balloons, satellites, modeled data, and physical observations to collect data and issue a forecast," said Thorn.

Modeled data is compiled from pre-existing weather forecasts and averages and funneled into a set of algorithms or a mathematical construct, to predict weather over a three-, five-, or even seven-day range, whereas SkewT, a website that depicts satellite data with real-time telemetry, is much more precise, Thorn said.

However, both are necessary for a complete picture of Kandahar Airfield, and on a larger scale, Afghanistan. With such a far-reaching capability, weather forecasting is an integral key to a flight's mission success. After all, deciding to fly a multi-million dollar airplane involves more than a weather-watcher looking out a window.

"We've positioned several weather stations around the airfield," said Thorn. "They have many attachments to gauge different things like temperature, dew point, wind, cloud height, and precipitation to give us a vertical atmospheric profile."

Assessing Kandahar Airfield's weather involves many pieces of equipment and a full-time staff. The KAF weather team, comprised of Air Force and NATO personnel, maintains a 24-hour operations tempo to run three weather sections at the base operations center as well as support another shift on the other side of the flight line.

Weather forecasts aren't just crucial to the pilots, though.

"Engineers ask us about precipitation amounts, say for a 5-10 year period," said Thorn. "Weather affects how they would go about building something here."

Whether it is a pilot, engineer, or Airman deciding on whether or not to don a jacket, the weather forecast affects everyone.
"The best part of my job is seeing how our mission briefs have an impact on operations," said Thorn.

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