Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

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December 20, 2010 at 11:44am

C-17 surpasses 2 million flight hours

LONG BEACH, Calif., — The worldwide fleet of C-17 Globemaster III airlifters built by The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] surpassed 2 million flying hours during an airdrop mission over Afghanistan on Dec. 10. Reaching 2 million flight hours equates to 1.13 billion nautical miles - the equivalent of a C-17 flying to the moon and back 2,360 times.

The representative mission, flown by a U.S. Air Force C-17, airdropped 74,000 pounds of jet fuel in support of U.S. and coalition troops just south of Kabul.

The C-17 has a mission readiness rate of more than 85 percent. It is the world's only strategic airlifter with tactical capabilities that allow it to fly between continents, land on short, austere runways, and airdrop supplies precisely where they are needed.

"There's tremendous satisfaction in knowing that in those 2 million hours, the C-17 fleet has saved countless lives around the world," said Bob Ciesla, Boeing C-17 program manager. "Boeing congratulates the U.S. Air Force and our international C-17 customers on reaching this milestone. We're very proud that the C-17 continues to exceed expectations for performance and reliability."

The C-17 fleet, now in its 17th year of service, has supported humanitarian and disaster-relief missions worldwide. With 226 airlifters in service around the world, the C-17 fleet continues to operate at an accelerated rate due to the recent troop surge in Afghanistan, reaching the 2 million flight-hours milestone less than five years after reaching 1 million flight hours in March 2006, when 152 C-17s were in service. This year, lifesaving aeromedical evacuations of wounded troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, along with relief missions for natural disasters such as earthquakes in Pakistan, Chile and Haiti, have intensified the C-17's normal workload.

Boeing helps keep the C-17 flying through a worldwide support and sustainment program. "Boeing has had the honor of supporting the entire C-17 fleet since the delivery of the first aircraft to Charleston Air Force Base in 1993," said Gus Urzua, program manager for the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III Sustainment Partnership. "Through innovative Performance-Based Logistics contracting and partnering with the Air Force, we have maintained the highest level of aircraft readiness while continuously reducing the cost of ownership."

While providing relief to Haiti in January and February, C-17s delivered nearly 14,000 short tons of cargo and transported some 25,000 passengers and 280 patients. C-17s also played a key role in a record year for airdrops in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. As of Oct. 31, C-17s and other airlifters have airdropped more than 45 million pounds of cargo to troops in remote locations.

Boeing has delivered 20 C-17s to international customers. The U.S. Air Force -- including active duty, National Guard, and Air Force Reserve units -- has taken delivery of 206. Other customers include the U.K. Royal Air Force, the Canadian Forces, the Royal Australian Air Force, the United Arab Emirates Air Force, the Qatar Emiri Air Force, and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations. India is expected to be the next C-17 customer.

(Courtesy Boeing)

November 22, 2010 at 10:25am

Local soldiers, airmen expect to fight until 2014

This from The News Tribune: American forces likely will keep fighting in Afghanistan through the end of 2014 - three years later than the date President Barack Obama announced when he heralded his war plans last year - under a timeline unfurled at a NATO conference in Lisbon, Portugal, this weekend.

The new date sends a message to soldiers and airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord that they can expect to continue their role in a dangerous war zone over the next four years.

But while the shift to 2014 has been discussed widely in the media the past few weeks, it doesn't appear to be triggering much talk among local service members yet.

Those stationed at the base have come to expect nearly continuous overseas assignments since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Many don't see that trend changing despite the ongoing drawdown from Iraq and the proposal to scale back in Afghanistan.

"It's always go," said Capt. Dave Braun, 30, of Spanaway. He's a pilot in the Lewis-McChord-based 62nd Airlift Wing who recently returned from a four-month assignment flying into Afghanistan.

To read the entire story, click here.

November 19, 2010 at 9:51am

McChord Fitness Center Annex reopens

MCCHORD FIELD, JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The McChord Field Fitness Center Annex reopened Nov. 16 with several new and improved fitness resources for the JBLM community. 

After 10 months of restorations and refurbishment, some of the biggest differences gym goers will notice include remodeled locker rooms, new exercise equipment and an elevated indoor track. 

"The renovations were made to provide Airmen the opportunity to meet the new fitness standards and maintain their healthy 'fit to fight' lifestyles all year round," said Thomas Ward, McChord Field Fitness Center and Fitness Center Annex Facility Manager. 

According to Mr. Ward, this $1.2 million project was conducted to create a more resourceful environment for people to establish convenient exercising routines during the cold winter months. 

"It will directly contribute to the goals of the newly established Comprehensive Airman Fitness program by providing an indoor facility and lots of space for guests to exercise and implement their own individual routine," said Mr. Ward. 

Some other improvements include the removal of the juice bar, which allows more room for cardiovascular equipment. The sauna has also been extracted, creating space to expand both the male and female locker rooms. 

"The extra equipment and larger locker rooms will be able to facilitate more people at once," said Senior Master Sgt. Cleofas Trejo, 627th Force Support Squadron Sustainment Services Flight Superintendent. "These improvements will help introduce more Airmen to a healthy lifestyle." 

Also, the fitness center offers aerobic exercise classes, which will resume at the newly reopened annex at their regularly scheduled times. Kum Jones, a retired Army spouse and frequenter of the McChord Field Fitness Center, said she enjoys the aerobic classes and is looking forward to utilizing the indoor track.

"I love coming to the gym as often as I can," said Mrs. Jones. "I love running, but I don't like treadmills. I can't wait to use that new track!" 

The new indoor track, with its 12-inch corner banks and state of the art cushion turf, provides servicemembers a resource to train for their physical fitness test. Although, accomplishing 1.5 miles takes 28 laps, the new track gives JBLM community members an alternative when choosing how to stay fit.     

November 4, 2010 at 2:49pm

McChord airmen chronicle Deep Freeze experience

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Active-duty and Reserve Airmen from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., spent a few days supporting Operation Deep Freeze at McMurdo Station in Antarctica and related their experiences to the Defense Department's "Armed with Science" blog recently.

Among the officers who traveled to McMurdo Station were Capt. Jon Waller, a C-17 Globemaster III instructor pilot with the 62nd AW, and Capt. Chris Stephens, a C-17 weapons officer.

"(We spend) the majority of the year flying into the (Southwest Asia)," said Captain Waller, who is on his second season flying for Operation Deep Freeze. "Flying into combat is pretty cool, and landing on dirt runways is pretty cool, but landing out here on the ice definitely takes the cake."

Captain Waller described the night missions as "amazing." 

"It really opens up our capabilities to fly year-round and fly 24 hours a day," he said. "And operations on the ice with (night vision goggles) are not all that much different from what we're used to." 

The key difference might be in the length of the day since it stays sunny 24 hours a day during Antarctica's summer and disappears for months at a time during the Antarctic winter. 

Two other officers, Maj. Bruce Cohn and Capt. Chris Stephens, have also flown support missions.

"Usually, C-17 pilots never get to leave the airfield (at McMurdo Station)," wrote Major Cohn, another C-17 instructor pilot for the 62nd AW. "We fly down from Christchurch, New Zealand, land on the ice runway, offload cargo and depart." 

However, a two-day visit to the station allowed the major to learn more about the base, which is principally operated by the National Science Foundation.

"What appears ... as individual station functions is actually an eccentric mix of people working together to make science happen," he wrote. "The research that's done here spans the gambit from marine biology to climate research and volcanology. After two days of near-perpetual sunlight, breathtaking views and a crash course on McMurdo (Station), I've barely scratched the surface of what happens in Antarctica, but it's 48 hours I will never forget."    

October 27, 2010 at 5:13pm

McChord airman performs at AMC competition

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Senior Airman Rachel Kleist, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., participated in the Air Mobility Command Icon competition at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Oct. 21.

Kleist was the base-level winner at Joint Base L-M and was among 11 competitors who sang to earn the title of "AMC Icon." 

Based loosely on the television show "American Idol," AMC Icon is an AMC commander's initiative to showcase the vocal talents of AMC Airmen. Each AMC base holds Icon contests in July and August to determine their representatives for the command final which took place Oct. 21.

AMC personnel assigned to Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, en route and tenant units geographically separated from an AMC base compete under the "affiliate" category. However, personnel stationed on or near an AMC base enter the contest via the base-level talent competition.

"AMC has some exceptional performers and Icon is their opportunity to shine," said Sam Parker, command program manager for AMC Icon.
Staff Sgt. Aisha Smith from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., won the competition. Senior Airman Naomi Scott of Dover Air Force Base, Del., earned second place while Senior Master Sgt. James Warrick of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., earned third place.

October 1, 2010 at 10:54am

Joint base at final operational capacity

This from The News Tribune: The merger brings together Pierce County's largest and third-largest employers - the Army and Air Force. In 2008, they had a combined civilian and military payroll of $2.3 billion.

The union is intended to help the Defense Department save money by taking advantage of efficiencies it can achieve by streamlining some services, such as police, fire, security and family support. It's not clear how much, and estimates of those savings have been falling since the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission first recommended joint bases in 2005. Twenty-six Army, Navy and Air Force installations were ordered to merge into joint bases.

September 30, 2010 at 12:44pm

McChord airmen support 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron

Airman Christina Gillespie and Tech. Sgt. Tim Raymon discuss weight measurements prior to loading a C-17 Globemaster III in Baghdad, Iraq.(U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Katie Gieratz)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Tech. Sgt. Tim Raymon is a loadmaster for a C-17 Globemaster III deployed with the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia.

Raymon is deployed from the 313th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. As a member of the 816th EAS, he supports combat airlift operations for operations New Dawn and Enduring Freedom and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

According to his official Air Force job description for the 1A2X1 career field, loadmasters like Raymon accomplish loading and off-loading aircraft functions and perform pre-flight and post-flight of aircraft and aircraft systems. They also perform loadmaster aircrew functions, compute weight and balance and other mission specific qualification duties, and provide for safety and comfort of passengers and troops, and security of cargo, mail and baggage during flight.

Loadmasters like Raymon are skilled in a variety of abilities, the job description states. For example, in determining quantity of cargo and passengers or troops to be loaded and proper placement in aircraft, loadmasters compute load and cargo distribution. They also compute weight and balance, and determines the amount of weight to be placed in each compartment or at each station. To do this they consider factors such as fuel load, aircraft structural limits and emergency equipment required.

C-17 loadmasters also accomplish the initial pre-flight of aircraft according to flight manuals. They pre-flight specific aircraft systems such as restraint rail and airdrop equipment. They also pre-flight aerospace ground equipment and apply external power to the aircraft. Additionally, they perform in-flight and special mission specific duties as required.

When supervising aircraft loading and off-loading, loadmasters like Raymon ensure cargo and passengers are loaded according to load distribution plan. They direct application of restraint devices such as restraint rails, straps, chains and nets to prevent shifting during flight. They also check cargo, passengers and troops against manifests, ensure availability of fleet service equipment and brief passengers and troops on use of seat belts, facilities and border clearance requirements.

In the deployed environment, loadmasters like Raymon are trained to conduct cargo and personnel airdrops according to directives. They are trained to attach extraction parachutes to cargo and platforms and inspect cargo and platforms, extraction systems and connects static lines. They also check tie-downs, parachutes, containers, suspension systems and extraction systems to ensure proper cargo extraction or release.

To do their job while deployed or at home station, loadmasters have to maintain a wide array of mandatory job knowledge, the job description states. They must know the types, capacities and configuration of transport aircraft, emergency equipment and in-flight emergency procedures, personal equipment and oxygen use, communications, current flying directives, interpreting diagrams, loading charts and technical publications, border agency clearance dispensing and preserving food aboard aircraft, and cargo restraint techniques.

September 23, 2010 at 9:43am

McChord unit gets new designation

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- The Airmen assigned to the 62nd Mission Support Group at Joint Base Lewis-McChord got a new unit designation and a more focused mission last week.

In a ceremony Sept. 17 in Hangar 9 at McChord Field, the 62nd MSG inactivated and the 627th Air Base Group was born. Colonel Kenny Weldon returned a ceremonial first salute from the newly activated group he now commands.

The unit reorganized to conform to the Department of Defense's joint-basing architecture by separating from the flying-mission wing and embedding its squadrons in the installation-support focused JBLM garrison. Five squadrons formerly called 62nd now belong to 627th: Civil Engineer, Communications, Security Forces, Force Support and Logistics Readiness. The former 62nd Contracting Squadron inactivated and its civilian personnel were absorbed into the JBLM garrison as Department of the Army civilian employees.

For more on the story, click here.

August 30, 2010 at 10:06am

4th Airlift Squadron deploys

More than 100 airmen assigned to the 4th Airlift Squadron departed McChord Field Aug. 26 for a 120-day deployment in support of the Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

The 4th AS is replacing the 8th AS, which is scheduled to return in the next few days.    

For more on the deployment, click here

July 15, 2010 at 3:48pm

250 Air Force recruits to be sworn in at Air Expo 2010

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - What an exciting way for about 250 men and women to start their Air Force career and for Joint Base Lewis-McChord to start Air Expo 2010. 

About 250 new Air Force recruits will be sworn-in at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning during a record-breaking ceremony at the JBLM Air Expo.

Col. Kevin Kilb, 62nd Airlift Wing commander, will enlist approximately 250 new recruits into the U.S. Air Force Delayed Entry Program.  This enlistment breaks the previous record of 178 DEP recruits swearing-in at the same time.  All of the men and women enlisting have come together through recruiting efforts throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The enlistment will take place on the Air Expo flightline in front of a large military aircraft static display, just before the aerial acts take to the sky at 11 a.m. 

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