Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: August, 2012 (11) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 11

August 3, 2012 at 6:39am

Reserve aeromedical evacuation squadron on the move

Lt. Col. Kenneth Winslow, 446th AES director of operations, prepared for the squadron’s returned to remodeled offices on McChord Field, Monday. The 446th AES squadron has been working from an alternate command post for the past two and a half years while

Imagine working in a building with no air conditioning, a leaky roof, cracked walls, a poor telecommunications system and no storage space for vital equipment. Add 150 people into a space designed for half that number and you'll get a glimpse into the workspace Reservists from the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron have endured for more than three decades.

"The original building for AES was designed for a smaller squadron and almost the day they broke ground in the early 1980s, Air Mobility Command doubled the size of our squadron," Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Wilds, 446th AES superintendent, said. "We've always been crowded as a result."

Lt. Col. Kenneth Winslow, 446th AES director of operations, said the squadron has been working from McChord Field's alternate command post building for the past two and a half years while their regular structure (Bldg. 1210) was being renovated.

AES Reservists happily moved into their restored facility on McChord Field Monday, one designed with their specific needs in mind.

"The upside for us is more room in the new facility," Winslow said. "The new building has some additions, including a learning lab with all the necessary computer drops for Advanced Distributed Learning Service and Computer-Based Training. Now that we've gone up to 150 people, getting ADLS training done over a Unit Training Assembly weekend won't involve people competing for training space. That's going to be a huge advantage."

The recent renovation included the installation of a modern telecommunications and internet system for the squadron's Reservists.

"When they built our old facility, the design was based on late 1970s or early 1980s requirements and (then) we only had one computer that was used to cut flight orders," Wilds said, who is also a Tacoma firefighter in his civilian job. "Now, 90 percent of what we do involves CBTs. We are constantly inundated with new critical items and every time we get a new piece of equipment we have to be trained on it. If you're not trained on it, you don't fly. We're a flying medevac unit and effectively using CBTs is critical to how we maintain our mission readiness."

Coupled with increased office, conference room and training space, the 446th AES also gained a new equipment warehouse as a bonus.

"Over the years, our technology and equipment have changed and we had no storage space of our own," Wilds said. "Our last storage space was about an eighth of the size for what we needed and our equipment was stacked floor to ceiling. This new structure is nice because it allows us to readily get our gear out. The new structure provides storage for all of our in-flight AE kits, which are all War Readiness Material equipment. If they call us, we can leave in an hour," he said.

Despite all the inconvenience moving into temporary, smaller workspace two and a half years ago, Reservists from the 446th AES haven't missed a beat while delivering continuous mission support.

"We have not slowed down while preparing for the September Operational Readiness Exercise and the October Operational Readiness Inspection either," Wilds said. "A large portion of our squadron is currently deployed to Afghanistan and we've been preparing for OREs, ORIs and exercises the whole time we've been moving out or moving in."

The long wait is over now that the 446th AES has relocated to its "remodeled home."

"This has been a group effort with great support from the 446th Airlift Wing, the 446th Operations Group and of course the contractors and engineers who all helped work on the building," Wilds said.

August 3, 2012 at 6:40am

McChord Airmen set sights on fall readiness inspection

August is almost here and the highpoints of the summer for the 446th Airlift Wing have passed. We've moved past the operation group's aircrew standardization evaluation, the Air Expo is over, and the various Fourth of July celebrations are in the bag. Time to relax except for one thing - the pending operational readiness inspection.

The 446th and 62nd Airlift Wings and the 627th Air Base Group will go through an Air Mobility Command Inspector General Operational Readiness Inspection Oct. 13-20. But before that, those tapped to participate will make another practice run with an operational readiness exercise Sept. 7 to 14.

August is really a time to push forward, not relax.

"UTAs are scarce and valuable commodities that need to be fully utilized," said Senior Master Sgt. Nicole Carman, 446th Airlift Wing Combat Readiness. "August is the last primary UTA left for the members playing in the ORI; they need to use it wisely. Let the polishing, pep talks and motivating speeches begin."

It's time to re-gage our sights on the wing's top priority for the past 12 months- the ORI.

"As a player myself, there are a few things that I'm doing to prep for September's ORE," said Lt. Col. Ray Luevanos, 446th Mission Support Group deputy commander. "First, I've dusted off my Airman's Manual and am keeping it on my desk so I can review a page or two each time I sit down.

"A significant portion of the ORI is open-book, meaning that if an exercise evaluation team member or IG Inspector asks you an ATSO (ability to survive and operate) question, you are encouraged to break out your Airman's Manual and talk him or her through the answer," Luevanos said.

Of course, it helps if that book is current.

"Make sure that you have the most current edition of the Airman's Manual dated 1 March 2009," Luevanos stressed. "You should also have sticker updates to pages 41, 69, 126, 127, 202, and Critical Information page 2. If you don't have this version of the Airman's Manual or you are missing these stick-on updates, please contact your unit deployment manager as soon as possible."

And Luevanos offered this tip for finding answers with speed: "Put tabs in your Airman's Manual to help you turn to specific sections even faster."

If you're feeling rusty on your chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, high yield explosive training and self-aid buddy care skills, you're not alone. The 446th AW readiness section is coordinating a basic ATSO skills review to allow inspection players to get some more hands-on training. This refresher training, time and place to be announced, will be on Sunday of the August UTA.

In the meantime, reservists need to make sure they accomplish all of their Total Force Awareness Training and Tier 2A training.

"The TFAT and Tier 2A training will be reflected in every mobility folder and eligible for inspection during the ORI," Carman said. "Completion of the required items and personal focus on the standard mobility folder will help expedite the team's audit."

TFAT training includes information assurance, force protection, human relations, information protection and suicide awareness.

Tier 2A training includes self-aid buddy care, CBRNE, counter IED, explosive ordnance reconnaissance, Air Force culture, Law of Armed Conflict, professional/unprofessional relationships.

Other mobility requirements include a current fitness test, small arms training, passport, immunizations, physical health assessment and dental exam, M-50 fit test, dog tags and security clearance, and at least 45 days retainability.

"If reservists are coming due for any medical requirements, focus on getting the questionnaires, health assessment, dental appointment, lab work and immunizations completed in a timely manner, rather than waiting until the last moment when appointments are limited," Carman said.

Another easy thing you can do is check your common access card to see if it expires in October or November. Making certain that CAC card is effective throughout the notional 45-day deployment can save you significant delays in the deployment line.

Other items you can inventory right now are your dog tags, flashlight, protective equipment (gloves, ear protection, eye protection), and gas mask inserts.

"Don't worry about reflective belts," Luevanos said. "These will be issued to everyone so we can be identified as 446 players. But you may want to bring an extra reflective belt if you have a backpack. Remember, the key is to be visible from any angle at night. By inventorying these essential items right now, you can save yourself some frantic, last-minute scrambling immediately prior to your departure."

So much for a laid-back August. But fear not, your efforts have not gone unnoticed.

"Wing leadership saw multiple examples of players with positive attitudes and can-do spirit during the May ORE," Luevanos said. "I have no doubt that by investing a little bit of time in preparation, we'll continue to build upon our success as we move toward October's ORI."

August 6, 2012 at 7:13am

Air Force officials release E-5 promotion list

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- More than 13,400 senior airmen -- 40 percent of those eligible -- have been selected for promotion to staff sergeant.

To see the list, go to http://www.afpc.af.mil/promotions/ssgt.asp.

Staff sergeant is the first noncommissioned officer rank. Those selected will be promoted beginning in September, depending on their promotion sequence number. Selections are tentative until the data verification process is complete, which is no later than 10 days after the promotion release date.

The average score for those selected was 283.30, with an average time-in-grade of 1.93 years and time-in-service of 4.45 years. Weighted factor point averages were 131.59 for enlisted performance reports, .98 for decorations, 70.35 for the promotion fitness exam and 57.33 for the specialty knowledge test.

For more information about promotions or other personnel issues, visit the myPers website at https://mypers.af.mil.

August 7, 2012 at 6:43am

Air Force has role in Mars Rover success

A 1/30-scale model of the aeroshell configuration for the Mars Science Laboratory underwent aerodynamic atmospheric descent testing at AEDC's Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9 Facility. (AEDC photo)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. (AFNS) -- As news broke of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) "Curiosity" rover's successful landing on the "Red Planet" Aug. 6, Arnold Engineering Development Complex's (AEDC) Hypervelocity Tunnel 9 Director Dan Marren was watching the live TV broadcast of the event.

"Last night, after eight months of high-speed flight, while you slept, NASA successfully landed the rover Curiosity on Mars," Marren said. "What I find refreshing is that for our part, there is an interesting story.

"Much of the success of the "7 minutes of terror" - that most challenging part NASA refers to from re-entry to touchdown - is directly related to sub-systems AEDC helped develop and validate. A solid heat shield and a proper deceleration parachute were crucial to putting the rover down safely. What is even more rewarding to me is that our capabilities designed many years ago for the original space race and strategic systems were so useful today enabling discovery and the natural curiosity of the human race."

"Curiosity" is the most highly advanced, mobile robot with the heaviest overall payload ever sent to another planet to investigate Mars' ability, both past and present, to sustain microbial life.

AEDC's role in supporting the MSL program has included evaluating the aerothermal loading of the heat shield at the complex's Hypervelocity Tunnel 9 facility in Silver Spring, Md., and assessing thermal protection system material candidates for the MSL's heat shield at the complex's central location in Tennessee. In addition, NASA and AEDC's engineers tested the MSL's full-sized parachute in the world's largest wind tunnel at National Full-Scale Aerodynamic Complex (NFAC) in California.

August 7, 2012 at 6:45am

New AFSC merges certain gunners, engineers, loadmasters

Staff Sgt. Sarah Mrak, an AC-130U Spooky aircraft aerial gunner with the 4th Special Operations Squadron, loads a 105 mm gun Feb. 3, 2011, during a training mission at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The AC-130U is the primary weapon of Air Force Special Operations

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Some 924 enlisted aviators will find themselves with a new Air Force specialty code Oct. 31.

The new career field, 1A9X1 Special Missions Aviation, will merge aerial gunners with flight engineers on vertical lift aircraft, such as the HH-60 Blackhawks and CV-22 Osprey, with loadmasters on AC-130 Gunships and other non-standard aircraft used by special operations forces.

"The new career field was created to balance and sustain the career enlisted aviator force and to create a larger pool of qualified personnel to perform the duties required to meet the needs of current and future Air Force's missions," said Chief Master Sgt. Douglas Massingill, the career field manager for career enlisted aviators.

Master Sgt. Matthew Ardis, career enlisted aviator in-service recruiter, expanded on that point.

He said merging the career field of aerial gunners, which typically overflows with new applicants, and the career field of certain loadmasters and flight engineers, which often suffers from manning shortages, results in the sustainable balance of which Massingill referred.

The merger won't be too drastic for most of the affected Airmen, Ardis said, since many gunner duties already overlap with those of engineers and loadmasters.

"Flight engineers have been working guns since the guns have been on the aircraft," Ardis said.

The learning curve might be slightly steeper for loadmasters, but Ardis said he expects them to catch on quickly because, while they may not typically fire aircraft guns, they still have familiarity with their basic function and operation.

The requirements for Airmen or new recruits interested in joining the special missions aviation career field include the ability to:
· pass a class III flight physical,
· score at least 60 on the mechanical portion or 57 on the general portion of the armed services vocational aptitude battery test,
· lift 70 pounds
· and obtain a secret security clearance.

Airmen looking to retrain into this career field can contact Master Sgt. Matthew Ardis at cea.recruiting@pentagon.af.mil or (703) 697-1717.

August 17, 2012 at 6:30am

McChord Reserve aircrew issued iPads

Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle 446th AW pilot carries his Apple iPad 3 tablet. AMC purchased 300 iPads for aircrews to use during C-17 Globemaster III missions.

The Reserve aircrews in the 446th Airlift Wing won't be using their fingertips to flip through thick technical orders to increase their knowledge anymore. Instead, they will be drawing them across touch screens on light and handy electronic tablets.

Air Mobility Command purchased about 300 Apple iPad 3 tablets for 446th AW aircrews, which were assigned to pilots and loadmasters Aug. 3, and will eventually serve as the primary tool for aircrews once full Electronic Flight Bag (media storage used by aircrews to accomplish their duties) implantation occurs.

"This is a true progression in embracing technology," Chief Master Sgt. Jim Masura, 446th Operations Group Standard Evaluation loadmaster said. "Our crews will be able to access information quicker."

Masura, of Graham, said this is the ideal technology that aircrews can use for information access.

"Trying to use a laptop is slower," he said. "Having a small useful device will be a great step toward arming our crews with information to accomplish their jobs safely and efficiently."

The chief said he anticipates a good return on investment with the crew using the iPads.

"The benefit will be increased efficiency and future expansion," Masura said. "It's a good proven platform."

Lt. Col. Pete Buehn, 446th OG Standard Evaluation pilot said private airlines are using the same technology.

"Some of the commercial airlines our pilots fly for are using the same platform, so the feedback should be constructive," Buehn said.

According to Masura, the iPad received the best feedback when it came to AMC deciding on the ideal platform.

"Several other bases did the testing for the brand of tablet that was selected," Masura said. "I am sure it was based off of ease of use."

Buehn said that even his limited use of the iPad supports the convenience and money savings afforded by tablet devices.

"I use an iPad already for regulation reference and have found it beneficial," Buehn said. "Just think of all the reduction in paper and the distribution there of."

Masura said the new tablets will consolidate the group's current method for information access.

"Currently, we provide a means for the crewmember to receive all of their publications electronically with a thumb drive for self study," said the 26-year Reservist. "They then have to provide their own computer for viewing these publications. The iPads allow us to not only give them the publications, but also a convenient means of reading those items."

The iPads won't immediately phase out the current process, Masura said. They will implement them in steps.

"We are beginning phase one of the project which is just for self study," Masura said. "We will give every body six months to get used to using the iPads and their information before we have them use them during their missions."

In the first phase they are a simple e-reader, which makes accessing electronic publications easier than from a laptop in most situations, Buehn said, who lives in Puyallup.

"As part of phase two, we will eliminate several of our required carry-paper publications and view these exclusively on the iPad or flight planning computer in our trip kits," Masura said.

In future phases, the iPads will be part of each crewmember's required carried equipment, Masura said. This will be done as a cost and weight savings measure.

As beneficial as the tablets will be once implemented, the command will be able to overcome roadblocks as they come up, according to Buehn and Masura.

"I think the biggest drawback is going to be keeping them safe from damage," the chief said.

Reading the tablet at night and being at the battery's mercy could pose potential problems, according to Buehn, who's been with the 446th AW since 1987.

However, Masura said everything is going as planned, so far.

"I started using one of the first iPads a week ago and I am learning new things every day," Masura said. That is the idea behind this phased process."

Masura said they began instructing pilots and loadmasters on the iPads Aug 3, and plan to start the aircrews on computer-based training.

August 22, 2012 at 7:11am

McChord C-17 crews begin WinFly to Antarctica

Last year, the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron conducted a record-breaking 74 missions in support of Operation Deep Freeze, six more than any previous season. The crews also broke the record for amount of cargo delivered by transporting 6.33 million

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AFNS) -- The 62nd Airlift Wing began the winter flying period Aug. 20 as part of its support of the U.S. Antarctic Program and the National Science Foundation.

The period, known as WinFly, is scheduled to last until Aug. 28 and will deliver advance teams and cargo for the upcoming main season of Operation Deep Freeze.

A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft operated by the 62nd AW and its Reserve associate wing, the 446th AW, will deploy to transport NSF personnel and cargo to Chistchurch International Airport, New Zealand.

Christchurch is the starting point for forward deployment to McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

WinFly and ODF are unlike any other U.S. military operations and present unique challenges for all members involved.

"Flying into Antarctica during WinFly is challenging because it is dark almost all day," said Maj. Matt Armstrong, 62nd Operations Group executive officer.

Unlike a traditional concrete runway, the airfield is carved out of the ice making it very difficult to discern the runway from the surrounding ice, said Armstrong.

Traditional airfield lighting is not feasible in the remote, icy airfield, so special reflectors are placed along either side of the runway to help the aircraft's lights reflect back into the cockpit.

"We have to adjust for crosswinds early and make a very straight approach to the runway," said Lt. Col. Brent Keenan, the 62nd Operations Group deputy commander and ODF commander. "Otherwise the light from the aircraft would not hit the reflectors and we would not be able to see the runway."

Another factor that makes WinFly missions difficult is the extremely low temperatures that occur in Antarctica during the month of August, which is wintertime in the southern hemisphere.

"Temperatures get so low in flight that the pilots have to make sure that the fuel in the wings doesn't get so cold that it turns into a gel," said Armstrong.

The Air Force is uniquely equipped and trained to operate in such an austere environment and has provided support to U.S. Antarctic research since 1955.

"This is a small subset of missions we do no matter what conflicts are going on elsewhere in the world," said Keenan. "It's a unique mission and it's all about furthering science."

Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica, led by Pacific Air Forces at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, is scheduled to begin the Operation Deep Freeze main season at the end of September.

August 22, 2012 at 7:13am

Knowing where to request records saves time, money

In an effort to save time and money, the master personnel records branch staff at the Air Force Personnel Center wants retirees and former Airmen to know the correct procedures for requesting medical and personnel record information.

"Knowing the correct procedures can not only cut down on the requestor's wait time, it can also cut the routing time and our workload," said Capt. Darren James, branch operations officer.

Airmen who retired on or after Oct. 1, 2004 can request copies of records such as a DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty), performance reports and other information by writing to AFPC/DPSIRP, 550 C St. West, Suite 19, Randolph AFB TX, 78150; faxing 210-565-4021; or visiting the eBenefits website at www.eBenefits.va.gov.

People requesting their own records need to send a completed Standard Form 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records, or a letter that includes their name, full Social Security number, contact information, specific record requested, and a signature. People requesting a deceased relative's record need to provide the above information, plus their relationship to the former Airman so next-of-kin relationship can be verified. Proof of death must also be furnished.

Veterans who retired before Oct. 1, 2004 must visit the National Personnel Records Center website at http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/ for record request instructions. People requesting the record of a deceased relative who retired before Oct. 1, 2004 may now use the NPRC website to order a copy of the military records.

Regardless of the request procedures used, processing can take time. Response time for records requests sent to NPRC varies and depends upon records availability and workload. NPRC receives approximately 4,000 to 5,000 requests per day. Officials at NPRC ask that people do not send a follow-up request before 90 days have elapsed as it may cause further delays.

Veterans who retired after Oct. 1, 2004 can access certain records online by registering for a premium account on www.eBenefits.va.gov. Click the register button at the top of the home page and follow the instructions provided to obtain a premium account. The website is managed by Veterans Affairs and may not be inclusive for all retirees.
"Requests processed through AFPC normally take 5 to 10 business days however, manning cuts across the Air Force have made it challenging for us to provide timely customer service to our veterans; so we are using technology to our benefit," said James. "There are definitely time and money savings associated when veterans access their records through the eBenefits website. The immediate savings we've seen by using eBenefits cuts the processing time tremendously from the current 5 to 10 business days to 24 to 48 hours."

Medical and dental records for all Airmen who retired before May 1994 are stored permanently at NPRC (see link above). Medical and dental records for Airmen who retired or separated after May 1994 are maintained by the Veterans Administration Service Medical Records Center at 888-533-4558.

For more information on records requests, visit the myPers website at https://mypers.af.mil.

August 22, 2012 at 5:40pm

Former McChord exchange worker charged with theft

This from The News Tribune: A former stockroom foreman at the McChord Field Exchange has been accused in federal court of stealing more than $325,000 in electronics and other merchandise from the store.

Andrew Quitugua allegedly admitted stealing from the exchange for nearly three years and selling the ill-gotten goods to a man he met through Craigslist, court records show.

Quitugua, who has yet to enter a plea, is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Tacoma next month for a pre-trial hearing.

Read the entire story here.

Filed under: News To Us,

August 24, 2012 at 6:49am

McChord Airmen confront harsh Antarctic summer

On one of the hottest days of the year in Washington, Airmen from McChord Field are headed to one of the coolest places - Antarctica.

Eleven 446th Airlift Wing Reservists, 23 active-duty 62nd AW Airmen, and one Airman each from the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron and 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron, departed Aug. 16 in support of Operation Deep Freeze's winter fly-in. The WinFly phase of ODF delivers advance teams and cargo for the upcoming main season of the National Science Foundation's U.S. Antarctic program.

The McChord Field Airmen traveled to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, before they arrived Saturday at Christchurch, New Zealand to become the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. The first scheduled flight to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, was Monday's WinFly, with subsequent flights Tuesday and Thursday.

Landing 15 miles from McMurdo on the ice runway known as Pegasus, the C-17s carry in scientists and support personnel to start early pre-summer projects, to augment maintenance personnel, and to prepare skiways and ice runways at McMurdo.

Christchurch is the starting point for forward deployment to McMurdo Station. ODF is unlike any other U.S. military operation. It is one of the military's most difficult peacetime missions due to the harsh Antarctic environment.

"Weather and fuel planning are the primary challenges of flying ODF missions," said Lt. Col. Bill Eberhardt, 728th Airlift Squadron and last season's 304th EAS commander. "When you go down there to McMurdo or airdrop on the South Pole, there's only one runway within about 2,200 miles you can land on. So you have issues with mission planning; if you lose an engine or something like that you don't have a lot of options."

ODF is a unique U.S. military peacetime operation during which Airmen based out of Christchurch, New Zealand, work in the harsh Antarctic environment.

Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica, led by Pacific Air Forces at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, is scheduled to begin the ODF main season at the end of September.

ODF is divided into three seasons, WinFly, Main Body and Winter. It involves active duty and Reserve C-17 support from McChord, LC-130 support from the New York Air National Guard and other aircraft necessary to support the mission; U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers and the U.S. Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One to provide critical port services at McMurdo Station.

McChord Field has participated in ODF since 1983 using the C-141B Starlifter. The 446th AW got involved in 1995. The first C-17 trial for use to support ODF was Oct. 15, 1999.

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