Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

April 28, 2016 at 8:45am

Airmen train Australian maintainers

Airmen from the Royal Australian Air Force reinstall a cover door of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft trainer auxiliary power unit April 19, 2016, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

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An airman working inside an aircraft engine asks a wingman to pass him a "torch". A torch is a common Australian term for a flashlight, and the airman asking for the flashlight is one of the Australian airmen attending maintenance training here at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The Australians are attending an aircraft maintenance class here Feb. 22 through April 25, conducted by the 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 12.

Each year more than 40 Australian airmen come to JBLM to receive training on C-17s. Classes are made up of 10-12 airmen and are usually split into two different groups, which consist of an aircraft avionics group and aircraft maintenance group. Classes usually last between eight to 12 weeks and entails airmen receiving training on 11 different C-17 trainers.   

"This has been a good course and the instructors go above and beyond to accommodate us," said Sgt. Brad Kay, Royal Australian Air Force 36th Squadron aircraft technician. "The hands-on instruction was great. Doing an engine change and being able to perform maintenance on things that don't commonly go wrong on C-17s was really helpful."

The Australian airmen receive instruction and training through formal lecture, written progress checks, and hands-on training on the maintenance training devices. The instructors work to translate and explain information in a variety of ways to reach the students.

"It's been fun working with them and learning about their culture and way of seeing things," said Staff Sgt. Byron Hand, 373rd TRS Det. 12 aerospace propulsions instructor. "Teaching them sometimes challenges us as instructors to teach based on different learning styles and to be able to see things from their perspective."        

The Australian airmen are very appreciative of the training they receive and the time and effort the instructors put forth in instructing them, said Craig Kelshaw, 62nd Operations Squadron foreign military personnel training coordinator.

"The instructors know how to relate to us ninety percent of the time," said Aircraftsman Jarron Russo, Australian Air Force 36th Squadron aircraft technician. "It was good to get a feel on how Americans operate. This should benefit any future deployments we have together."

Because of McChord's advanced state-of-the-art aircraft training facilities, the Royal Australian Air Force is one of many foreign militaries that are trained on McChord Field on the C-17.

"Congress mandates we train foreign military to foster goodwill globally," said Kelshaw.

"We are partners and allies on the global war on terror. We support them and they support us."

Australian airmen have been receiving training here since 2006 and are part of more than 1,100 foreign students from more than 30 countries that have received training here.   

"It's a great benefit and cost advantage for them to come here," said Kelshaw. "They are receiving the same training that our pipeline airmen receive."

The training benefits not only the Australians but also the instructors, said Hand.

"It gives us a different perspective," said Hand. "We are not just one team but a joint team providing airlift power to impact the world globally. The Australian airmen are also fun to hang around and it's good to learn their slang."

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