Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: August, 2011 (16) Currently Viewing: 11 - 16 of 16

August 22, 2011 at 6:23am

DoD Magazine seeks young Reservists for 2012 edition

Futures Magazine is looking for candidates to be featured in their 2012 edition.

The publication is targeted toward high school students and guidance counselors. They're looking for bright young Reservists, enlisted and officers.

The magazine would like to interview Reservists to talk about their service, interests, hobbies and other aspects of their lives off duty.

Reservists should complete the attached questionnaire and return them to Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle. The forms need to be in no later than Aug. 24. They can be printed and filled out and brought to the Public Affairs Office in Bldg. 1214 or e-mailed to

Information on the magazine can be found at

Please contact Sergeant Chappelle at 982-9133 or 3330 for more information.

August 23, 2011 at 5:57am

First light at McMurdo Station, and flight from JBLM, heralds the beginning of Winfly season

Today is a very special day here at McMurdo Station External U.S. government site because the sun will be popping up over the horizon at long last. It's been a long, long time without our bright, warm friend to light up this place. And with its return, we're about to recommence an age-old "tradition" called the Winter Fly-In, known for short as Winfly.

Winfly is typically a six-week long period beginning in August when the U.S. Antarctic Program External U.S. government site flies in a few early season flights to bring in several hundred new people and supplies. This small surge in support helps the station ramp up for the arrival of all the science grantees at the beginning of the main summer field season in early October.

Twilight glow on snow and rocks. Photo Credit: Ryan Wallace Twilight glow as the first sunrise of 2011-12 approaches.

The first flight, carrying nearly 120 passengers aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Lewis-McChord External U.S. government site, landed on the ice runway at Pegasus airfield shortly after noon on Aug. 20 (local time). Six flights are scheduled between Aug. 20 and Aug. 29.

Over the next month and a half, McMurdo will prepare for all sorts of summer science operations. Excursions out onto the sea ice will begin, including roadway flagging, ice runway preparations, ice-crack safety inspections, and also science dives under the ice. A couple of science groups will arrive during Winfly and work out of the fully prepared Crary Science Laboratory.

Among the groups is a team led by Adam Marsh External Non-U.S. government site from the University of Delaware External Non-U.S. government site who will scuba dive under the ice to collect a marine worm for research related to its climate-driven genetic adaptations. Jody Deming's External Non-U.S. government site team from the University of Washington External Non-U.S. government site will arrive during Winfly to search out frost flowers, delicate ice-crystal structures of high salt content that form on the surface of the sea ice around McMurdo. Deming wants to test a hypothesis that says wind-borne frost flowers transport marine bacteria over long distances.

Nacreous Clouds Photo Credit: Dan Su Nacreous clouds above McMurdo Station.

This is probably one of the most interesting times of the year to be at McMurdo, because the average temperatures typically drop to the coldest levels of the year. It gives you the opportunity to enjoy the strongest feeling of being on the "harsh" continent.

One of the highlights of Winfly is that the sky frequently becomes adorned with the refracted apparitions of very high, sweepy cloud phenomena called nacreous clouds. These clouds take on a rainbow-like luminescence, as the low-angle sunlight passes through the ice crystals contained high within. The beauty is a double-edge sword. The clouds have been implicated in the atmospheric processes that cause ozone depletion, which also begins at this time of the year.

What makes Winfly most special is that you can really feel the return of the science mission here. Science is our bread and butter at McMurdo Station, and it's what we've been preparing for all winter long. The return of the sun illuminates that fact.

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August 24, 2011 at 3:35pm

McChord's 62nd wins in Rodeo results recount

Representatives from the 62nd Airlift Wing/627th Air Base Group Rodeo combo team on board a C-17 Globemaster III with Air Mobility Rodeo trophies August 24, 2011, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Discovery of a programming error in the Air Mobility Rode

Discovery of a programming error in the Air Mobility Rodeo scoring system has the 62nd Airlift Wing/627th Air Base Group Rodeo combo team winning Best C-17 Wing.

"This is great news!" said Col. R. Wyn Elder, 62nd Airlift Wing commander. "Our Airmen work hard every day to provide the best combat airlift in the world and it's an honor for them to be recognized at the premier mobility competition in the world for their outstanding work. The fact that the combined 62AW/627ABG team was able to win "Best C17 Wing" at a joint base is a testament to the teamwork our Airmen demonstrate every single day throughout the world. "

The programming error, isolated to the C-17 and C-130 Container Delivery System airdrop scores, was discovered Aug. 18 by Air Mobility Command officials and changed the results of several major awards.

"There is an automated process in the scoring algorithm which improperly assigned a median score for an event," said Maj. Gen. Frederick H. Martin, AMC director of operations and Rodeo commander.

"This program error was not found in testing," said Martin. "All manual scoring processes were triple checked; however, there was not a final check for one critical portion of the automated scoring processes."

Best C-17 Wing was incorrectly awarded to the 97th Air Mobility Wing, Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The 97th AMW actually finished in second place.

"It feels really good," said Maj. Scott Huffstetler, aircrew team chief. "We were all disappointed when the results first came out, but knowing all of the hard work and effort on everyone's part that went into this, finding out now that we won is really exciting."

During Rodeo the combo team also walked away with additional awards not affected by the error including another major award, Best Aerial Port Team, as well as the Best C-17 Preflight trophy and the Best In-Transit Visibility team.

"We can't forget that we have over 500 Airmen deployed around the globe right now defending our nation. This award is just as much a statement about the quality of their work as it is the competition itself," said Elder. "Team McChord prides itself on being the best mobility Airmen every day - not just at the Rodeo competition. Colonel Hasberry and Chief Warren and I are so proud of our Airmen!"

Air Mobility Rodeo, sponsored by AMC, is an international Mobility Air Force's readiness competition focusing on improving worldwide air mobility wartime core abilities. Rodeo 2011 was held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord July 24-29.

(AMC Public Affairs contributed to this article.)

August 30, 2011 at 6:25am

McChord's 446th commander off to flying start

Photo by Ingrid Barrentine Col. Bruce A. Bowers Jr., is commander of the 446th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Washington's only flying Air Force Reserve wing.

Colonel Bruce A. Bowers Jr.'s dream of becoming a pilot was on the verge of being lost. As a flight student, he was down to his last opportunity to fly his trainer aircraft without getting motion sickness. If he got sick in any way, he would wash out and remain an avionics system engineer.

His final opportunity to fly was on a Monday, so Bowers spent the weekend spinning in a chair at his house, training his body for the physical and mental rigors associated with flying. His personal, somewhat unorthodox training method worked; he became a pilot, and is now passing on that legacy of determination and dream achievement to younger Airmen as the new commander for the 446th Airlift Wing at McChord Field.

The past 60 days have been a whirlwind for the 53-year-old North Carolina native. He hasn't stopped moving since taking the leadership reins of Washington state's only Air Force Reserve flying wing. Bowers led his unit to an excellent showing during the Air Mobility Command Rodeo here, falling just short of tying its active-duty counterpart, the 62nd Airlift Wing, in medals and awards.

For Bowers, it's not about the recognition or attention - but teamwork. One of his subordinate units, the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, received Air Forcewide press for providing nurses and medics to help the Pakistani air force team compete.

"The building of that team you can't put a price tag on the relationship formed," Bowers said. "You will do things for friends that you won't do for competitors." That philosophy is one of the reasons Bowers gets along so well with his counterpart, 62nd AW Commander Col. R. Wyn Elder. The two Air Force colonels' wings share the 40-plus C-17 Globemaster III airplanes residing at McChord.

Nearly 2,400 Air Force Reservists comprise the wing and fly about 44 percent of all missions leaving McChord daily in support of U.S. worldwide operations. And add the support the 446th AW provides to Joint Base Lewis-McChord garrison and its commander, Col. Thomas Brittain, it's no surprise that AMC Commander Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr. dubbed the three commanders "Team EBB" during last month's Rodeo.

"The fact that he recognized we are a team shows how we can work together," Bowers said. "You don't get to choose your parents or your kids, but you are a family, and that's what we are - a (joint base) family."

His career status as a wing commander is a far cry from the pig farming days of his grandfather or Soldier's life of his father. That's why working at an Army-Air Force joint base partnership is so special for Bowers, because he sees what he most admired about his father in every Soldier on JBLM. "When I see a Soldier, I see my dad," Bowers said.

His degree from North Carolina State University and a strong military background led Bowers to try his hand at the Air Force. He attended Officer Training School and received a commission in May 1981. His first assignment as a lieutenant was learn how to be an F-15 avionics systems engineer at the Air Force Institute of Technology, then at Auburn University. While getting another degree, he had the chance to talk to some pilots about flying. He has been hooked ever since.

"Luck will get you places that ‘good' won't take you," Bowers said, referring to meeting the people who influenced him into becoming a pilot. Despite the motion sickness issues during pilot training, Bowers has logged more than 9,000 hours without getting sick again, and has achieved the senior command pilot rating. He has flown seven aircraft during his career, including the C-9 Nightingale, C-141 Starlifter and C-17.

When he was younger, he said the best pilots tended to be musicians or athletes. Today's pilots have excellent hand-eye coordination from growing up playing video games as children. Bowers said the "Nintendo generation" would rival any of the Air Force's pilots from previous generations.

"I've had the opportunity to fly with some of these young Airmen and they can do things that I can't do , and they do it the first time that they see it," Bowers said. "Across the board, the education our folks get, the smarts and savvy, is just amazing."

Reserve commanders have to maintain relationships with employers and civic leaders in unique ways, he said. Supporting combat and humanitarian missions worldwide while ensuring his Airmen are trained and ready at home means that 446th AW Reservists potentially work many more days than the Reserve standard of two days a month and two weeks a year, Bowers said. Employers are mandated by law to release Reserve Airmen when they are called up for active duty, but Bowers understands the economic impact of local employers losing their employees to military duty.

"I can't pay employers for letting that Airman go," Bowers said, "but I can show (employers) what their folks are doing and make them as proud of their employees as I am for what they are doing for this nation."

That's why the 446th AW has instituted programs to bring employers to the installation to see their employee's military workplaces, even taking civilian employers up for rides on aircraft to gain better understandings of their employees' military responsibilities.

Even though Bowers has 30 years of service in the Air Force, he said he's the new guy in the 446th AW. Walking into an established culture where the average Airman has 10 to 15, even 30 years at the unit is daunting, yet thrilling, Bowers said. "You better recognize that there are some smart people here," he said. "To be here is just a dream come true and just craziness."

August 30, 2011 at 6:42am

8th Airlift Squadron deploys for overseas contingency operations

Airmen assigned to the 8th Airlift Squadron congregate in the Passenger Terminal before the squadron left for deployment August 25, 2011, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The Airmen departed McChord Field for a 120-day deployment in support of the Opera

Airmen assigned to the 8th Airlift Squadron departed McChord Field August 26, 2011, for a 60-day deployment in support of the Operations New Dawn and Enduring Freedom.

"While it has been approximately one year since the 8th Airlift Squadron returned from last year's deployment, our aircrews have continuously executed flights in and out of the area of responsibility supporting war fighters on the ground in Operations New Dawn, Enduring Freedom and elsewhere," said Lt. Col. Harmon Lewis, 8th AS commander.

The unit will operate as the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, with a mission focused on providing global strategic airlift, combat airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief, to create an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout their assigned areas of responsibility.

The 62nd Airlift Wing has four flying squadrons, and has evolved the deployment construct. The system is shifting from 120-day to 60-day deployments, reducing both the pre-deployment preparation time and the reconstitution period post-deployment.

"While this means that we can expect to deploy for two months in every eight-month period, it also means that our aircrews can maximize the training opportunities at home and maintain unique flight and ground training qualifications," said Lewis. "It's a win-win for Team McChord and Air Mobility Command."

The change in deployment cycle is nothing new to first-time deployers, like Airman 1st Class Auston Witherrite.

"I've only flown one mission since I've been with the 8th," said Witherrite, a loadmaster who arrived at his first duty assignment just two months ago. "I'm both very nervous and very excited about the deployment."

19-year-old Witherrite will be celebrating his first anniversary of joining the Air Force during the deployment.

"I'm excited to learn and qualify for more things while I'm over there," said Witherrite. "I love being a loadmaster."

The 8th AS is replacing the 10th AS, which is scheduled to return in the near future.

"This squadron has a long tradition of combat airlift," said Lewis. "We are eager to do our part, and do it well!"

August 31, 2011 at 5:29am

Services officials 'refresh' dining menus

Airmen will soon have more variety and availability of nutritious meals thanks to a new initiative to 'refresh' dining facility menus.

Air Force Services Agency officials here partnered with industry chefs to implement a new program called "Operation Refresh."

The program infuses new items into dining facility menus on a regular basis, incorporates additional fresh ingredients and improves methods for preparing existing entrees, officials said. Additionally, it will improve culinary skills for Air Force food service professionals through new cooking techniques.

After a recent review with a food evaluation team and previous quality of life surveys, it was determined current menus were outdated and needed to be revitalized, said Bill Spencer, the AFSVA appropriated-fund food operations branch chief.

"Operation Refresh allows us to better serve our customers by adding fresh, new choices to the core menus for all (appropriated fund) dining facilities," he said. "Starting in September, a new menu item will be added each month. The first menu item available will be a pork chop with warm pineapple Asian glaze sauce."

Currently, there are approximately 276 Air Force dining facilities serving approximately 93 million meals annually.

For more information about Operation Refresh, call a local Air Force dining facility. To learn about Air Force food service operations and other quality-of-life programs, visit or

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