62nd APS facility works overtime to facilitate Rodeo

By Tyler Hemstreet on July 27, 2011

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Throughout the Air Force, there are only a few aerial delivery facilities supporting airdrop training for Airmen. One of them is located at McChord Field here and is supporting the airdrop events for Air Mobility Rodeo 2011.

The 62nd Aerial Port Squadron aerial delivery facility is an eight-person shop providing the Container Deliver System bundles used by U.S. and international teams participating in Rodeo 2011.

"This is one of the premier facilities in the Air Force for airdrop support," said Kevin Gagnon, the 62nd APS quality assurance program coordinator for the facility. "We build CDS loads for conventional airdrops as well as 'heavies,' which are airdrop loads that simulate a heavier airdrop."

When Rodeo isn't in town, the aerial delivery facility is responsible for providing the airdrop loads used for training 62nd Airlift Wing and 446th Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III crews for airdrops.

"Training aircrews is why we're here," Gagnon said. "Also, we've been here for every Rodeo that's happened and we bring our abilities from that training support to support the competitors."

Wayne Fangman, project manager for aerial delivery, said they are happy to support the U.S. and international competitors for Rodeo. He said their shop supports joint service partners as well.

"We've had crews from the U.S. Marine Corps, Australia and Canada come here and train with us," Fangman said. "We've also trained with crews from the 15th Wing from (Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam) Hawaii."

For Rodeo, the airdrop events include personnel and cargo airdrops that include heavy equipment and CDS bundles. Aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules and the C-17 will be using airdrop loads built by the aerial delivery facility for those events. Fangman said they are happy to support the training - whether it's during Rodeo or any other time.

"For us we know there is an important impact to what we do," Fangman said. "We know we're helping keep crews trained so when they get to Afghanistan they are ready to complete their job conducting airdrops and helping those troops on the ground."

Container Delivery System bundles are the most commonly used method for the airdrop of supplies for contingency and humanitarian operations, AMC officials said. CDS bundles are used as a means of delivering equipment and supplies that are too heavy for an individual parachutist to carry, and are often used to supply ground units in forward operating areas like Afghanistan.

In its configuration, as an example, CDS bundle consists of a skid board built with plywood and energy-removing material such as "honeycombed" cardboard, an A22 container to rig equipment no taller than 83 inches, one cargo parachute, one pilot parachute, and various expendable supplies. In the aerial delivery facility, every training bundle is recovered and reused for future practice drops.

"On average, we'll build upwards of 20 to 30 CDS bundles every month as well as 20 to 30 heavy airdrop loads," Fangman said. "For a CDS bundle to be assembled, it takes two of our staff members about 30 to 40 minutes to completely put it together."

When they're not building airdrop loads, they are recovering them. The facility is equipped to repair parachutes as well as repair and prepare recovered equipment for future use.

During the 2011 International Airdrop Symposium, the facility's personnel provided briefings and demonstrations for the symposium's 200-plus attendees that included people from more than 20 countries. Many of those international attendees are learning more about airdrops so they can develop the capability for humanitarian and other operations in their own countries.

South African air force officer Lt. Col. Pine Pineaar said during one of the visits to the facility about learning about airdrops -- "It's a lot (of information) to take in."

The facility's personnel are also trained and capable of building airdrop bundles for the newest forms of airdrop platforms such as the Joint Precision Aerial Delivery System, for JPADS, bundle.

"The JPADS load takes a little more time to build, but a load like that is a big deal," Fangman said. "Technology advances and airdrops are more of what we will see in the future."

For Air Mobility Rodeo 2011, the 62nd APS aerial delivery facility is maintaining a busy pace supporting the competition. Gagnon said they will be there and are "happy to support."