Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

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July 25, 2011 at 1:34pm

International participants add spice to Rodeo competition

The Belgium air force team waves its flag in support of fellow teammates at the Air Mobility Rodeo 2011 "Fit to Fight" competition, July 24 at McChord Field. (Photo by Senior Airman Brianna Veesart)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- At the opening ceremonies for Air Mobility Rodeo here July 24, among the nearly 3,000 mobility personnel in formation around the McChord Field flightline were service members from more than 25 nations.

Those international partners each carried their country's flag to their formations creating what one person announced as a "sea of flavorful colors." That may also describe what the international partners bring to Rodeo 2011 environment -- flavor.

There are seven countries participating in events at Rodeo - Belgium, Netherlands, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Sweden. Additionally, there are more than 20 countries observing competition.

Countries observing Rodeo competition include Argentina, Australia and Canada, as well as India, Israel, Poland, Singapore and New Zealand. For the first time, the African nations of Algeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa are observers for Rodeo. They also attended the International Airdrop Symposium that was a lead-in event to Rodeo 2011.

Lt. Col. David Mackenzie, deputy director for U.S. Air Forces Africa's Plans and Requirements Directorate at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, is working with the African observers at Rodeo. He said their participation at the symposium and observing Rodeo is critical to partnership building not only internationally, but also for the African Union.

"For the attendees from Africa, they are looking to build or improve upon an airdrop capability for their air forces," Mackenzie said during the symposium that also took place here July 19-21. "By attending...these five countries gain insight to procedures and methods of airdrop.

"More specifically, their attendance also helps them understand more about humanitarian airdrops in support to the African Union," Mackenzie said. "In the long term, it's about Africans helping Africans from the knowledge they gain here."

Lt. Col. Pine Pineaar from the South Africa air force, who as an observer will not only learn from the airdrop symposium but also from observing Rodeo airdrop events, noted the importance of airdrops for humanitarian purposes.

"The value of airdrops in humanitarian missions cannot be underestimated," Pieneaar said. "Although the cost (of airdrops) may be high, the value of human life is higher."

Though some like Pieneaar are at Rodeo 2011 for the first time, others are making repeat appearances. For Adjutant Joris Retty, a C-130 loadmaster from the Belgium air force, this year marks his third Rodeo. He was previously here in 2005 and 2009. When one of his teammates fell ill, he jumped at the chance to come back and help coach the rest of his team.

"Nothing motivates me more than the spirit of competition," the E-7 said. "It's great to meet people from other nations and socialize. I actually went to loadmaster school at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, so it's nice to be back in America. I can't wait to get started."

Besides the opening ceremonies for Rodeo, the first event that included the international competitors was the "Fit to Fight" competition. This event has five-person teams who complete push-ups, sit-ups and a mile-and-a-half run.

During that first event, one observer stated "spectators cheered, waved banners and even dressed in costumes," and, "chants in several languages also echoed all around."

It's that "flavor" that was reflected in Col. R. Wyn Elder's welcome to the teams in the opening ceremonies.

"To all teams and our international participants, we are honored by your presence today at our competition," said Elder, who is the 62nd Airlift Wing command at McChord Field. "Let camaraderie define victory."

(Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski and Senior Airman Abigail Klein also contributed to this story.)

May 13, 2011 at 12:27pm

Airdrop levels in deployed areas reach 25 million pounds

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- In 2010, an additional 30,000 U.S. forces poured into Afghanistan as part of a "surge" to further stabilize the area. As a result, statistics show, that level of forces may also be the leading reason why airdrop levels in 2011 are averaging around 6.25 million pounds dropped a month.

Through the first four months of 2011, statistics tracked by the Air Forces Central's Combined Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia show there were more than 25 million pounds of cargo airdropped for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. That figure nearly matches all the airdrop totals from 2006 to 2008 in the same region.

The current annual record for airdrops is 60.4 million pounds dropped from 2010. Records aside, mobility Airmen are focused on meeting the needs of the warfighters on the ground.

"We're flying round-the-clock missions, mostly air-land and to and from lots of little austere Army air fields throughout the country," said Capt. Andrew Thomas, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-130 Hercules pilot at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in a January 2011 AFCENT news report by combat correspondent Tech. Sgt. Stacia Zachary. "We're also doing airdrops here (at a rate) of about one to two drops per day."

The C-130 Hercules isn't the only Air Mobility Command-style airframe supporting deployed airdrop operations. The C-17 Globemaster III is also a part of the effort. In deployed locations, C-130s and C-17s are a part of expeditionary airlift squadrons at numerous bases throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Both airframes use a variety of ways to deliver the airdrop cargo. For example, since March 2010, C-130s perform "low-cost, low altitude," or LCLA, airdrops where they airdrop bundles weighing 80 to 500 pounds with pre-packed expendable parachutes in groups of up to four bundles per pass. The drops, reports show, are termed "low-cost" to reflect the relative expense of the expendable parachutes. "Low-altitude" describes to the relative height from which bundles are released from the aircraft.

There's also the Joint Precision Airdrop System, or JPADS, that guides airdrop bundles to their drop zones using the Global Positioning System technology, and the Improved Container Delivery System, or ICDS, that allows for improved precision by factoring in the altitude, wind speed, wind direction, terrain and other circumstances that might affect the drop.

Also, for example, a C-17 Globemaster III can carry up to 40 CDS bundles for a combat airdrop mission. Each of those bundles are often built by U.S. Army parachute riggers who jointly work with the Air Force airlift community to get them delivered to ground troops in remote regions of Afghanistan.

If statistics continue at the current average of 6.25 million pounds per month, 2011 will be a new record year with more than 75 million pounds airdropped.    

December 27, 2010 at 10:30am

Local AF veteran restores F-4 Phantom

This from The News Tribune: U.S. Air Force Capt. Howard Stroupe III gave up his status as a fighter pilot in 1978, settling into a long career as an airline pilot with a penchant for collecting.

Space memorabilia, movie posters, fossils - you name it, Stroupe has boxes of it at his Federal Way home.

After decades of amassing such items, he last month added the crowning glory to his massive collection.

It's his old flying partner - an F-4 Phantom II jet, one of the most versatile fighters ever built.

"I never dreamed you could own anything like this," said Stroupe, 62. "I like sitting and looking at it. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling."

To read the complete story, click here.

Filed under: History, U.S. Air Force, Tacoma,

March 8, 2010 at 5:02pm

WWII female pilots honored in D.C.

According to a blurb on the Los Angeles Times' Web site, nearly 200 women who served as military pilots during World War II as part of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program will be on hand Wednesday to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.

One of these women (although I can't confirm she'll be at the ceremony) attended the McChord Air Expo in 2008.

February 8, 2010 at 6:33am

Aircraft losses at McChord, a history

Blog talks about the day a C-141 burned on the ramp at McChord.

Filed under: History,

January 20, 2010 at 5:09pm

Paper airplane contest

The Olympic Flight Museum in Olympia hosts the 10th annual Paper Airplane School & Contest from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 13. The event is open to participants of all ages, and will focus on various types of folding and flying paper airplanes - from simple examples to the "cutting edge" in paper airplane technology.

Experts will be on hand to guide participants from construction, first flight and advance maneuvering. A distance and spot landing contest will begin at 2:30 p.m., with prizes awarded in various categories. Admission for flight school participants is $7, which includes professional instruction, all construction materials and a snack. Spectator and general admission is $5. Children 6 and younger are free.  The Olympic Flight Museum is located at the Olympia Regional Airport. 

For more information, visit www.olympicflightmuseum.com or call (360) 705-3925.

Filed under: Education, Olympia, History,

November 24, 2009 at 5:08pm

Former 62nd AW commander to lead AMC

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AMC PA) — Gen. Raymond Johns Jr. assumed command of Air Mobility Command from Gen. Arthur J. Lichte in a ceremony here Nov. 20.

AMC is responsible for providing rapid, global mobility and sustainment for America's armed forces. As the commander, Johns acts as the lead agent for all mobility air forces comprised of more than 130,000 personnel from the active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve. The command also plays a crucial role in providing humanitarian support at home and around the world.

Johns comes to AMC from the Pentagon where he served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Programs, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. Past assignments with AMC include serving as the 62nd Airlift Wing commander, 60th Operations Group commander at Travis AFB, Calif., and senior director at the Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott AFB.

Johns served at McChord from August of 1998 to July of 2000.

 "Though I've been away from the command for a few years, AMC is part of my blood," Johns said. "AMC is part of the fabric of my Air Force life."

Lichte is set to retire in January.

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