Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: March, 2016 (15) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 15

March 3, 2016 at 12:15pm

Air Force reveals B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber

U.S. Air Force graphic

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James revealed the first rendering of the Long Range Strike Bomber, designated the B-21, at the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium Feb. 26 in Orlando, Florida, and announced the Air Force will be taking suggestions from airmen to help decide the name of the bomber.

"This aircraft represents the future for our airmen, and (their) voice is important to this process," James said. "The airman who submits the selected name will help me announce it at the (Air Force Association) conference this fall."

While there are no existing prototypes of the aircraft, the artist rendering is based on the initial design concept. The designation B-21 recognizes the LRS-B as the first bomber of the 21st century.

The reveal comes just weeks after both James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh, III delivered the fiscal year 2017 posture statement before the Senate Appropriations Committee, making it clear modernization is a top priority for the Air Force.

"The platforms and systems that made us great over the last fifty years will not make us great over the next fifty," Welsh said during his testimony on Capitol Hill, Feb. 10. "There are many other systems we need to either upgrade or recapitalize to ensure viability against current and emerging threats ... the only way to do that is to divest old capability to build the new."

James said the B-21 will allow the Air Force to operate in tomorrow's high-end threat environment, and give the Air Force the flexibility and the capability to launch from the continental United States and deliver airstrikes on any location in the world.

James also explained why the B-21 shares some resemblance to the B-2.

"The B-21 has been designed from the beginning based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology," James said.

The program recently entered into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase and the Air Force plans to field the initial capability of the aircraft in mid-2020s.

Airmen - Active, Guard, Reserve and civilian - should stay tuned to and Air Force social media accounts for more information on how to submit their ideas. 

March 3, 2016 at 12:18pm

627 CES leads Morey Pond cleanup

More than 20 volunteers from the 627th Civil Engineer Squadron gathered to cleanup Morey Pond on McChord Field, Feb. 27, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The volunteers spent the day clearing out more than one-and-a-half acres of overgrown invasive species of plants growing along the banks of the pond.

"I was very excited that all the volunteers showed up," said Senior Airman Austin Knight, 627th CES structural journeyman. "This was a pretty big project, and I am very appreciative for all the support we received."

Knight said he first noticed the problem back in November when he had to repair a fence near the pond.

"We noticed that the pond was completely dry and overgrown with plants," said Knight. "We knew that without proper care-taking, the area would only get worse as time goes by."

Knight teamed up with Senior Airman Cullen Davis, 627th CES structural journeyman, and planned and executed this morale, welfare and recreation improvement project.

"Over the last year, it has become so overgrown with invasive species that it was overwhelming for the fish to survive and nearly impossible to fish from the banks," said Davis.

The main purpose for the Morey Pond cleanup is to eradicate the invasive species of plants growing along the banks.

"By removing the plant from the banks, this will create a better habitat for any fish that may be in the pond or any that may be stocked in the years to come," said Davis.

Morey Pond is located on McChord Field near Holiday Park, so JBLM servicemembers and their families are allowed to go fishing in the pond.

"More importantly, when fish become a surplus here, the cleared banks will allow fishermen easier access to fish," said Knight. "The easier access will allow the fishermen access to the banks, which in turn controls the fish population."

March 3, 2016 at 12:32pm

2016 Air Show & Warrior Expo is a "Go"

The 2016 JBLM Air Show & Warrior Expo is a "GO" for August 27-28 at McChord Field. The all-day event will feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as the marquee act, along with the U.S. Army's "Golden Knights."

"After a four-year hiatus, we're extremely pleased to bring this magnificent event back to the South Sound," said Col. Daniel S. Morgan, JBLM Garrison Commander. "We're thrilled to have the Thunderbirds and the Golden Knights here again, just as they were in 2012," Morgan added.

The 2016 JBLM Air Show & Warrior Expo is more than an air show.  In addition to the Thunderbirds and Golden Knights, hundreds of JBLM soldiers and airmen will be on hand with airframes and vehicles from JBLM as part of dozens of ground displays. This will showcase the equipment our airmen and soldiers use right here at the base every day, and it's our way to thank the people around the Puget Sound area for their support of servicemembers and military families. In most cases, people will be able to go inside the planes, helicopters and vehicles on display, and speak directly with the crews who operate them.

The 2016 JBLM Air Show & Warrior Expo is free and open to the general public.

More information about the 2016 JBLM Air Show & Warrior Expo will be available in the coming months through news releases and social media.

THUNDERBIRDS:  The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, better known as the Thunderbirds, is an Air Combat Command unit, based out of Nellis AFB, Nevada, composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), support officers, civilians, and about 110 enlisted people performing in more than 29 Air Force specialties.

GOLDEN KNIGHTS:  The U.S. Army Parachute Team, nicknamed "The Golden Knights," is the Army's official aerial demonstration team. The team includes more than 90 people, including jumpers, pilots, parachute technicians, and media relations and supply specialists. The Golden Knights perform more than 100 demonstrations a year.

March 4, 2016 at 9:49am

Air breathing threats

Big Buffaloes winning team members from Barbarian Flight, are Staff Sgt. Anthony Milton, Senior Airman Matthew Stephens, Staff Sgt. Nathan Lucas, Tech. Sgt. Joseph Carey, and Capt. John Dalrymple. Photo credit: Capt. Kimberly Burke

The Western Air Defense Sector's (WADS) annual Top Scope competition was held Feb. 16-18, testing operations crew members in their ability to detect, identify, and defend against air-breathing threats in difficult simulated scenarios.

Three teams of five members competed in the local competition with individual top performers advancing to the NORAD Top Scope at Tyndall AFB, Florida in April where they will compete against teams from the Eastern Air Defense Sector, Canadian Air Defense Sector, Alaska NORAD Region 176th Air Defense Squadron, Hawaii Regional Air Operations Center 169th Air Defense Squadron, and the 552nd Air Control Wing.

The individual top performers from each duty position are: Capt. John Dalrymple, senior director; Staff Sgt. Brian Kulp, weapons director; Tech. Sgt. Joseph Carey, identification technician; Staff Sgt. Anthony Milton, air surveillance technician; and Senior Airman Matthew Stephens, tracking technician.

The winning team with the top combined score is "Big Buffaloes" from Barbarian Flight. Team members included: Capt. John Dalrymple, senior director; Staff Sgt. Nathan Lucas, weapons director; Tech. Sgt. Joseph Carey, identification technician; Staff Sgt. Anthony Milton, air surveillance technician; and Senior Airman Matthew Stephens, tracking technician.

The WADS Top Scope competition is made up of a written test and two simulated scenarios. In order to provide challenging simulations, Tech. Sgt. Ryc Cyr, Top Scope planner and non-commissioned officer in charge of contingency plans in Weapons and Tactics shop, spent nearly six months planning with DMO (Distributed Mission Operations) contractors and subject matter experts to ensure the competition covered all desired top learning objectives.

"There was an extremely difficult fifty question in-depth written test tailored specifically to each specialty where any information contained in the supporting guidance was fair game," explained Major Antony Braun, chief of Weapons and Tactics.

The simulated scenario execution phase is comprised of two vulnerability periods per team. One replicates a standard peacetime scenario similar to Operation Noble Eagle, which is the prime mission focus of WADS. Operation Noble Eagle was named for the military response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The mission has been ongoing since the attacks, serving to provide air sovereignty of North American airspace.

The wartime scenario simulated an enemy deliberately attacking an island with cruise missiles. The teams were responsible for defending 10 high priority targets on the island with only the assets already pre-positioned there. The scenario was designed so teams had to prioritize the centers of gravity and the assets needed to protect those targets. "The intent of this exercise was to test the decision making ability of the team by making it nearly impossible to successfully protect all ten high priority targets," according to Master Sgt. Bryan Villanueva, Weapons and Tactics superintendent.

"DMO is a system we have in operations that simulates virtual combat," explained Villanueva. "Real pilots from Iowa Air National Guard's 132nd Wing - Detachment 1, Distributed Training Operations Center (DTOC) run the simulation for us."

DTOC electronically connects pilots from across the country in realistic simulation training opportunities all over the world. DTOC is able to create enhanced virtual battlefields that challenge pilots with realistic and demanding scenarios. The end result is that pilots and command and control operators from all over the United States can participate and collaborate in high fidelity mission training events in the virtual environment without ever leaving their home bases.

"To be successful in this competition the participants had to think outside the box - at a graduate level," said Braun. "The scenario required competitors to be able to prioritize and quickly make decisions when faced with multiple targets at the same time to include other possible issues such as in-flight emergencies or refueling issues. An error in decision making at the onset of a scenario could possible lead into a very challenging and nearly impossible winning outcome. The decision making process and managing the air picture is the heart and soul of what we do."

Each five member team was made up of one tracking technician, air surveillance technician, identification technician, senior director, and air weapons officer/weapons director.

The tracking technician is responsible for determining whether data is a potential threat based on its heading, speed and altitude and has to account for weather and radar background noise. The air surveillance technician assesses the information from the tracking technician and determines the validity of the object. The identification technician is responsible for running an ID matrix on the data which is based on the object's position, altitude, speed, origin and heading. If the object stays "unknown" the senior director will determine which air asset to launch to intercept. The weapons director is responsible for talking to the air assets and gives direction to the pilot to complete the intercept.

During each scenario, there were critical areas of evaluation for all team members which included checklist adherence, crew coordination and situational awareness. Specifically, the air surveillance technician and tracking technician positions had special emphasis on air picture management and accurate track initiation. The senior director /weapons director position critical areas were rules of engagement, treat evaluation and tactical decisions. Finally, the identification technician position critical area was adherence to the ID matrix.

"I am extremely proud of our team members," said Col. William Krueger, Western Air Defense Sector vice commander. "The Top Scope competition encompasses the most challenging scenarios that continue to sharpen our air defender's skills for the real world 24/7 mission we conduct at WADS on a daily basis. I know our team will represent us well at the NORAD Top Scope competition."

March 11, 2016 at 11:25am

An original Rosie

Elinor Otto has seen nearly 50 years of aircraft history. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee

Whether rain or shine, she's part of the assembly line. She's making history, working for victory ... "

Long before he learned the role his grandmother played in history, Elinor Otto was John Alexander Perry's role model. Whenever he had a decision to make, he asked himself one question: "What would Grandma do?"

Aside from being the inspiration for her son and grandson, there have been two constants in Otto's life. She simply cannot sit still for long, and she loves working on airplanes.

"If she had an outlet you could plug into her, you would never sleep again," Perry said. "There's nothing about her that's normal. She just goes and goes and goes and doesn't stop. She is truly the Energizer Bunny."

Throughout her career, Elinor Otto worked on airplanes for almost 50 years until she was laid off in 2014. By the end of 2014, when the Air Force ended its relationship with the Boeing Long Beach plant, Otto had worked on every Boeing C-17 Globemaster III they had. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee

Otto was one of the original Riveters, the thousands of women who took on jobs for men deployed overseas during World War II. She worked on airplanes for almost 50 years until she was laid off in 2014 at the age of 95 from the Boeing Company plant in Long Beach, California, where she shares a house with her grandson.

"Everything with me is an adventure," said Otto, who's now 96 years old. "That's what life is - one big adventure."

Perry then pointed to a photograph of his grandmother as a young woman and smiled wistfully.

"See, she was beautiful," he said. "People wanted Grandma to be an actress."

But Otto had no interest in an acting career because she had a destiny - an important one for not only her life, but also for the then-fledgling Air Force and Nation.

"I had to work on airplanes," she said. "They used to ask me, ‘Why do you want to do a man's job?' I said, ‘Because you get a lot of exercise, you're on your feet and move around.' That's what I like. I just don't like jobs where you just sit still all the time."

Co-workers and visitors would marvel at the sight of Otto at work, moving her hands and stomping her feet along with the vibrations of the riveting gun. But not everyone initially accepted women in jobs usually reserved for men.

"Of course, the men resented hearing that women were going to be working with them, at first," Otto said. "But after we proved ourselves and proved to them that we were able to keep the schedules up and get the jobs done right, they started respecting us, and we all cooperated together.

"Some of the guys would say, ‘You're working too hard. You're making us look bad.' But I would say, ‘Well, go to work then!'"

Eventually, the men saw that the women worked as hard and as effectively as they did. In fact, the women were often selected to handle the rivet guns because their work was more precise, Otto said.

"They told us, ‘You women handle the rivet gun. Don't let the men do it,'" she said. "They wouldn't let the men do that because we were more careful. With the sets we had to make, it was so easy to make a ding on the skin, and they would have a hard time fixing it.

"Things were smaller then - smaller parts and rivets. Now we need guns that are so heavy. But I could do that, too. I would say, ‘I'm not as frill as I look,' because I'd been doing it for a long time. I had to tell some of them that I'd been doing this work since before you were born. You had to fight your way sometimes with the men."

During the war, Otto made 65 cents an hour, which didn't go far, since she paid $20 a week to board her son while she worked. To motivate themselves before heading to work, Otto and her female co-workers would sometimes sing along with the song, "Rosie the Riveter" by the Four Vagabonds on a .78 rpm phonograph. She still knows the words today: "Whether rain or shine, she's part of the assembly line. She's making history, working for victory..."

After the war, Otto worked as a car hop and other equally unsatisfying jobs before she returned to factory work in 1951. She worked for Ryan Aeronautical Corporation in San Diego for 14 years until she was laid off. Almost a year later, Otto moved to Long Beach to work for Douglas Aircraft Company, which merged with McDonnell Aircraft and later with Boeing.

By the end of 2014, when the Air Force ended its relationship with the Long Beach plant, Otto had worked on every Boeing C-17 Globemaster III they had. Throughout her half century working on planes, whether on the C-17, KC-135 Stratotanker, or the Douglas DC-8, McDonnell Douglas D-9 and D-10, Otto's fast-paced style never changed, mostly because it was the way she worked since childhood. But she admits there was also another reason.

"When I would sit down, they were about ready to call the paramedics," she said. "They thought that maybe something was wrong with me."

Interest in the Rosies peaked a couple of decades later, with the renewed popularity in the "We Can Do It" poster during the women's rights movement in the 1970s and ‘80s.

"We didn't know we were doing anything important," Otto said. "We thought we were just working people, working together for a purpose. We had no idea that this was ever going to happen, that we'd get all of this attention about it. Otherwise, I think I would have taken more pictures."

At the age of 12, Otto's grandson learned about her role during World War II only after he was given a history project on the Rosie the Riveters in junior high school. His father Ronald Arthur Perry told him to write about his grandma.

"Everyone at that point wanted to meet her and talk to her," John Perry said. "I kind of got swept to the side and grandma was famous."

The forced retirement, especially so close to reaching the 50-year milestone of working on airplanes, hurt Otto deeply. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she watched the last C-17 tip its wing goodbye before it left the Long Beach plant for a four-hour flight to Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina.

March 11, 2016 at 12:00pm

McChord C-17 puts flares to the test

A C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, ejects flares over the Eglin Range, March 2, at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Naomi Shipley

A 62nd Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III aircrew found itself away from the rainy climate of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and in the sunshine of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, participating in an Air Mobility Command flare effectiveness test, that started Feb. 29.

The C-17 crew along with a C-5 crew from Travis AFB, California, made the journey from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast to put their aircraft countermeasures to the test.

The aircraft-dispensed flares are used as infrared countermeasures designed to defeat "heat-seeking" surface-to-air missiles.

Headquarters Air Mobility Command A3D requested the flare testing from AMC Test and Evaluation Squadron. With help from AMC TES, the 46th TS, the C-17 and C-5 crew and support from Eglin AFB, the AMC TES made it happen.

Master Sgt. Justin Hudson, AMC TES command senior test director, manages and directs operational tests to provide leadership with unbiased feedback in order for them to make well-informed decisions to provide war-fighter proven solutions.

"We are overseeing the flare effectiveness test and ensuring flares are operating the way they should be," said Hudson. "This test is very important because we are constantly trying to outsmart our enemies. These tests ensure our operators are flying with the most up-to-date countermeasure system."

Not every aircraft in the Air Force has the flares as a defense countermeasure.

"Typically, cargo-carrying aircrafts such as the C-130, C-5 and C-17 carry the flares as a defense countermeasure," said Hudson. "The flares are vital and enhance mission capabilities by defending the aircraft operators."

U.S. Air Force Maj. Mike Motschman, 7th Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot and deputy chief McChord Field command post, has had the flares on his aircraft deploy down range but stressed more goes into a successful mission than the aircraft countermeasures.

"Part of being aircrew includes knowing all the aircraft systems and how they operate including the flare systems," said Motschman.

Motschman said there's a lot that goes into evading an enemy.

"It's not just the flares and it's not just the way the aircraft is flown," said Motschman. "Training is probably the most important part, but they all have to come together."

After about a month's worth of testing, Hudson and his team determined the results of the test and composed a report to deliver to AMC.

"We identify risks and improvements and determine whether the test was successful or unsuccessful and explain why," Hudson said.

The team will likely be out here again next year with the same intentions for their mission: to keep the aircrew safe and to stay ahead of the enemy.

March 11, 2016 at 12:01pm

Bringing 446th airmen together

Citizen airmen of the Rainier Wing gathered together March 6 at McChord Field to participate in Wingman Day.

The theme of this year's event, We Are Connected, was aimed at highlighting the importance of joining together as a team.

"Wingman Day is our chance to emphasize the resiliency of the 446th Airlift Wing family," said Col. Scott McLaughlin, 446th AW wing commander. "It solidifies the meaning that we always have someone to lean on."

One of the speakers, Jeanne Morrow, the 446th Airlift Wing director of psychological health, briefed the wing on suicide prevention and awareness.

"Everyone is faced with challenges," said Morrow. "At some point you will have to face those challenges. Wingman Day is a chance for us to gain a better understanding of ourselves."

Morrow relayed her experience of a fear of flying and how it impacted her life. She explained how something that starts as a minor inconvenience can manifest into something debilitating.

Following the suicide prevention briefing, Reservists took part in a new program called Wingman University.

The 446th Wingman University offered five classes which included education on parenting, relationships, finances, home buying and health and fitness.

"These classes will allow airmen to learn new skills or enhance previously learned skills," said McLaughlin.

March 11, 2016 at 12:04pm

Rainier Wing moves mountains in Spain

When teams are assembled in order to accomplish a project or goal, their success can be measured by the chemistry within.

In the Air Force, it's no different. Airmen across the globe collectively achieve its mission by sustaining an integrative, flexible, rapidly mobile force.

Reservists with the 446th Airlift Wing's maintenance and aircraft maintenance squadrons, out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, demonstrated this ability providing maintenance support for the 725th Air Mobility Squadron here Feb. 14-28.

In order to meet annual training requirements, the Rainier Wing's citizen airmen assisted the 725th AMS airmen in their distinctive role of performing en-route maintenance operations for aircraft, which travel to forward operating locations.

Upon their arrival, the reserve maintainers tore off their warmups, and geared up for the game.

"We're providing real global support functioning away from home station," said Senior Master Sgt. Joe Warren, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron team. "This allows us to showcase our skills in a deployed environment, share what we know outside of McChord, and learn from our host (unit). It also gives us the ability to focus on production."

Reserve maintainers don't always get the option to train on the flightline during drill weekends. Some may have to fulfill their commitments at a base field training detachment (where aircraft maintenance students learn about a specific airframe in a university-type of environment), or on a computer. Annual tours, including this give Reserve airmen the chance to apply their skills.

"We get here and do our job, instead of training to do our job," said Tech Sgt. Lebaron Smith, 446th AMXS Instrument Flight Control Systems technician. "We get more experience and get people trained to do things by the book, fast and safe. When the time comes down to it and we need to be (mobilized), we need those skills."

Real-world environments also allow airmen to learn from each other. This is especially the case in maintenance and aircraft maintenance, because of the background variances between the Reserve and regular Air Force units. The 446th AMXS mission is exclusive to the C-17 Globemaster III airframe. However, performing at the en-route base demands general knowledge of multiple aircraft.

"They're a huge help," said Senior Master Sgt. Cameron Leslie, 725th Aircraft Maintenance Unit production superintendent. 

March 17, 2016 at 2:59pm

JBLM recognizes Red Cross volunteers

The JBLM American Red Cross dog therapy team and their handlers receive the Outstanding Team Award at the JBLM Annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon and Award Ceremony at the McChord Club, March 9. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Naomi Shipley

Eighty-one Joint Base Lewis-McChord American Red Cross volunteers were recognized for their selfless dedication and servitude at a ceremony March 9, at the McChord Club on JBLM. In 2015, 315 Red Cross volunteers worked with JBLM healthcare facilities and other service areas to provide essential support towards the comfort and medical care of servicemembers, veterans and family members. The volunteers contributed more than 74,000 hours of service or the equivalent to more than $1.7 million worth of service.

Col. Timothy Holman, 7th Infantry Division chief of staff, served as the guest speaker for the annual event which served as an opportunity to give back to those who give so much.

"It's an absolute honor to be given the opportunity to address these outstanding volunteers," said Holman. "Since its inception in 1881, when Clara Barton and her best friends founded the organization, the Red Cross has remained true to its mission of preventing and alleviating human suffering."

Holman quoted Merriam Webster to describe who the volunteers truly are by saying, "A volunteer is a person who does something by free choice usually with no expectations for payment or acknowledgement."

He addressed the volunteers with deep gratitude, understanding the essential role the Red Cross volunteers play here.

"Your willingness to help others speaks volumes about your character," Holman said. "Today, we take the time to honor these eighty-one civilians who collectively have volunteered hundreds of years and thousands of hours of their time. No other organization comes close to the dedication or acts of kindness you give."

Holman shared a story about his personal connection and experience with the American Red Cross from 15 years ago.

"As a soldier in the Pentagon during the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, I witnessed first-hand the Red Cross volunteers who worked tirelessly to help support those affected in the crash," said Holman. "I watched them working around the clock helping others, and this selfless display of generosity will be forever etched in my mind."

"As a volunteer, each of you has a unique story to tell and you will never know all the lives you have affected through your many sacrifices.

Bob Jeffrey, McChord Clinic Red Cross coordinator, was recognized as the 2015 Volunteer of the Year and was surprised by the announcement at the ceremony.

Joey Naputi, McChord Clinic pharmacy technician and avid volunteer appreciator, credits Jeffrey's meticulousness and dedication as the driving force behind the success at the McChord Clinic.

March 24, 2016 at 10:27am

Night vision landings

A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, lands on Pegasus Runway in Antarctica during the 2015 Operation Deep Freeze season. Courtesy photo

Airlift support to the U.S. Antarctic Program wrapped-up in March, and members from Joint Base Lewis-McChord met challenges of the harsh Antarctic environment head-on, including performing night-vision goggle landings on a runway made of ice during the Austral Winter.

The flights were part of Operation Deep Freeze, the U.S. military's logistical support to the Antarctic Program, which is managed by the National Science Foundation. The Antarctic flights are one of the military's most difficult peacetime missions, due to the unpredictable and severe weather conditions on the southernmost continent.

The 446th Airlift "Rainier" Wing partners with the 62nd Airlift Wing in a total force Team McChord effort to provide airlift support to the Antarctic Program, which manages three research stations year-round. The bulk of research in Antarctica takes place during the Southern Hemisphere's summer: The 2015 airlift season spanned the period from September 2015 until March 2016.

In blended "rainbow" crews consisting of active-duty and Reservist airmen, Team McChord members work in concert with many organizations to support NSF research and deploy as part of the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron.

The missions also tested the capabilities of the C-17 Globemaster III, and the Rainier Wing supported three rotations to the Antarctic.

"We ran three rotations during the main season of September to November," said Senior Master Sgt. Derek Bryant, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron superintendent. "On average, each rotation contained roughly seven missions and transported over five hundred personnel and over 400,000 pounds of cargo each."

Night-vision goggle operations were key elements of a successful season without mishaps for members of the Rainier Wing.

"We ran night-vision missions in June this year when it normally would have been too dark to operate," said Bryant. "This enabled us to help create new scientific possibilities for the NSF. Those flights in June and July solidified our training and the capabilities of the C-17 in those conditions."

Aircrews land on a sheet of ice, which is called Pegasus Runway, in Antarctica. Total airlift support from Team McChord included two medical evacuations, over 1,300 passengers transported, over 150 flight hours and nearly one million pounds of cargo offloaded.

During the last mission March 2, members from Team McChord helped move 5,912 pounds of cargo to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, and transported over 30 passengers and 44,000 pounds of cargo to Christchurch, New Zealand, said Lt. Col. Robert Schmidt, 304th EAS mission commander and 62nd Operations Group deputy commander.

Adding to the total force effort, once personnel and equipment are brought by C-17 crews to McMurdo Station, a ski-equipped LC-130 from the 109th Airlift Wing deployed from Stratton Air National Guard Base, New York, ensure personnel and supplies are flown to smaller camps and stations in the Antarctic, said Schmidt.

Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand, is the staging point for deployments to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, the USAP's logistics hub, according to Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica, led by Pacific Air Forces at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

"The Pegasus Runway moves approximately one hundred feet per year, and they're in the process of building a new runway," said Schmidt. "During the next season, the plan is to start flight testing the new runway."

During June and July 2015, members from Team McChord validated increased flying hour efficiency by supporting pre-scheduled mid-Austral winter flights to McMurdo.

"On each mission, we saved approximately twenty-eight hours of C-17 positioning and de-positioning flight time by tying into an Australian channel," explained Schmidt.

The Australian channel is a routine airlift mission flown from Travis Air Force Base, California, and reduces the C-17 flight time from 17 hours to six by more efficiently using airlift assets already deployed to Australia to support transporting equipment and personnel for the NSF Antarctic mission, he said.

Preparations for flights in June and July 2016 are underway for Antarctic airlift support.


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