Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: April, 2016 (13) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 13

April 1, 2016 at 11:47am

Sailor completes Airman Leadership School

Col. Ethan Griffin (left), 62nd Airlift Wing vice commander and Chief Master Sgt. Tico Mazid, 62nd AW Command Chief, present a graduation certificate to MA2 Christopher Beining. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

MA2 Christopher Beining, Marine Corps Security Forces Battalion master of arms, Naval Base Kitsap at Bangor, graduated from the Julius A. Kolb Airman Leadership School March 25 as part of a graduation ceremony at the McChord Club, Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Beining was the first U.S. Navy sailor to attend the Julius A. Kolb ALS, here on McChord Field.

The ALS program is a six-week course of primarily guided discussion classroom methodology, experimental activities, and exercises and case studies. It also features uniform inspection, physical training and drill.

"This was a unique schooling opportunity for me," said Beining. "In the Navy, we attend the Petty Officer Indoctrination Course. This ALS course is more than 190 hours of course material, while our (Navy) course is only twenty-two hours."

The instructors and curriculum challenged Beining, while introducing him to leadership techniques that work with other branches of the military, according to Tech. Sgt. James Lee, JBLM ALS instructor.

"I was also challenged as the instructor," said Lee. "I actually had to do a lot of research about the Navy and took it upon myself to take the Navy senior noncommissioned officer academy computer-based training course so I could link in Navy history to better assist the student."

Although Beining was at ALS to learn about leadership and supervisory roles, he also was able to educate McChord airmen on leadership and supervisory roles in the U.S. Navy.

"I enjoyed ALS; it was different from the POIC," said Beining. "It was structured like a college course; there was a lot of studying on your own."

Beining said the focus on academics gave the school that college-like atmosphere.

"Today's military is doing a lot of joint operations," said Beining. "So taking this course gave me some knowledge on how the Air Force works."

"Beining did great throughout the whole course," said Lee. "We both overcame the challenges of learning the differences between both branches, and the willingness to understand how other services do things helped everyone."

April 7, 2016 at 11:32am

C-17 drag reduction testing aims at saving fuel

The first phase of C-17 Globemaster III drag reduction testing consisted of putting six orange Finlets on the aft part of the fuselage. A C-17 on loan from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is the test plane for the program. Photo credit: Kenji Thuloweit

From testing synthetic biofuels to "vortex surfing," Edwards Air Force Base is on the forefront of finding new ways to cut fuel costs for the Air Force.

The latest venture is currently underway at the 418th Flight Test Squadron where a test team of Air Force and Boeing personnel recently completed the first phase of Air Force Research Laboratory's C-17 Drag Reduction Program.

According to an AFRL study, the price the Air Force pays for jet fuel has quadrupled between 2004 and 2012. At the same time, the demand for personnel and equipment to be transported around the world has increased. Airlifters like the C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and C-5 Galaxy use most of the Air Force's fuel - 70 percent in 2012. Of these cargo planes, the C-17 uses the most fuel.

The purpose of the C-17 Drag Reduction Program is to collect data on how airflow is affected with different modifications done to a C-17.

The modifications are scheduled for different phases using Vortex Control Technologies "Finlets" and Lockheed Martin microvanes and fairings. The ultimate goal is to see which, if any, modification reduces drag and thus fuel consumption.

"The C-17 is one of the highest consumers of jet fuel in the Air Force," said Capt. Kevin Meyerhoff, a test pilot with the 418th Flight Test Squadron. "A reduction of just a few percent can result in significant cost savings."

The first phase consisted of putting six VCT Finlets on the aft part of the fuselage. The test aircraft for the program is a C-17 on loan from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Test sorties for Finlets 1 configuration were completed in March to determine how the C-17 performed with the modification.

Although the goal is to reduce fuel consumption by increasing airflow efficiency and reduce drag, it has to be done without negatively effecting what the C-17 can do now.

"The cost savings these devices may offer are entirely dependent on the C-17 still being able to fulfill its mission in the Air Force," Meyerhoff said. "Our testing focused not only on fuel performance, but also on any impacts that the devices may have on the flying qualities of the aircraft. This includes the C-17's ability to perform critical air drop missions."

The next phase of testing will add five more Finlets to each side of the C-17 for a total of 16 Finlets.

The strakes that come on production C-17s will be removed to make room for the additional Finlets.

In the third phase of testing, the Finlets will be removed and six microvanes will be placed on each side of the aft fuselage.

"The Finlets are similar to the strakes, only smaller and attached in greater numbers to the airplane. The microvanes are even smaller, similar to small plastic blades," said C-17 airdrop engineer Nhan Doan.

The fourth phase will see fairings attached to locations on the wings near the engines and winglets.

All these different structure modifications manipulate the airflow around the airplane. During computer simulations, spots on the C-17 were identified that showed where drag could be reduced.

The flight tests at Edwards AFB are the final stage of AFRL's program following computer simulations and wind tunnel tests with a scale model. The data collected will be sent to AFRL at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to see if any of the modifications increase streamlining and reduce drag. After that, Air Force leaders will ultimately decide whether or not any of the modifications should be implemented throughout the C-17 fleet.

"Our end goal is to reduce fuel consumption while maintaining military utility" said Steve Salas, a 418th FLTS project manager. "This program has the potential for significant savings in C-17 fuel costs, helping the Air Force stretch its budget even further, while maintaining force readiness."

Testing is scheduled to be completed in October.

April 14, 2016 at 11:25am

Could Reaper come to McChord Field?

An MQ-9 Reaper taxis into position. Could this aircraft call McChord Field home? The Air Force is looking at bases, and McChord Field could fit the bill. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

The Air Force released basing criteria, April 12, that will be used to select candidate bases for a potential new MQ-9 Reaper wing with units at up to two locations.

The Air Force is pursuing additional locations to help diversify assignment opportunities for personnel within the MQ-9 enterprise, provide increased opportunities for leadership from within the community, and provide flexibility to enhance integration with other organizations and capabilities.

The desire for additional locations for an MQ-9 wing was identified during surveys of officers and enlisted airmen in the MQ-9 and MQ-1 Predator enterprise as part of Air Combat Command's Culture and Process Improvement Program.

"We are initiating the strategic basing process to determine the best locations for hosting additional locations for the MQ-9 mission," said Jennifer L. Miller, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations. "As we go through the basing process, we will use the information we collect to help us determine the affordability and potential locations for expanding MQ-9 enterprise."

The basing criteria will focus on mission requirements (runway length for the launch and recovery mission and synergies between common missions with existing units), capacity, environmental requirements and cost factors.

The Air Force will first identify a location to potentially host an operations group with mission control elements. All active-duty Air Force bases in the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii that do not currently have an MQ-9 wing, will be evaluated. The locations being considered must also have an active-duty flying wing or group that performs at least one core RPA mission and/or is co-located with an active-duty distributed ground system. MQ-9 crews will fly the MQ-9 from these locations, but no aircraft will be associated with these units.

The Air Force also plans to identify a second potential location, which may host a full MQ-9 wing that will include a launch and recovery element and a mission control element. This second installation must be an active-duty Air Force installation in the continental U.S., Alaska or Hawaii that has at least an 8,000-foot runway and does not currently have an MQ-9 wing. This location is expected to have 24 MQ-9s located there. McChord Field fits this criteria.

After identifying candidate bases, ACC will conduct site surveys at each location. Site survey teams will assess each location against requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, infrastructure and manpower. They will also develop cost estimates to bed down the units.

Based on the results of these efforts, the Air Force plans to identify candidate installations in the summer of 2016 and the preferred alternatives in the winter of 2016/2017. Final basing decisions will be made by the secretary of the Air Force after the requisite environmental analysis is complete. 

April 14, 2016 at 11:27am

446th airmen go north

Frigid temperatures, freezing rain and strong winds can turn a simple repair job exponentially challenging. But two McChord reservists have taken up the challenge.

Staff Sgt. Dustin Buel and Staff Sgt. Ryan Seibold, both assigned to the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron, left McChord Field March 26 to set up camp in Kodiak, Alaska, in support of Arctic Care 2016.

Arctic Care is an annual two-week operation in remote areas of Alaska. It provides free medical, dental, vision and veterinary care, and is the largest recurring joint military medical and logistics training exercise today.

This year, U.S. and Canadian military members will be providing services to the several communities on Kodiak Island, where resources are limited and spare parts can be difficult to come by.

"We have the opportunity to provide generators, electrical distribution, lighting and heating to sustain the deployed personnel," said Lt. Col. Andrew Lafrazia, 446th CES commander.

One of the key missions of civil engineers is to provide support and sustainment anywhere in the world, and real-world exercises provide an invaluable training environment.

"When we first arrived, we had to set up numerous tents, environmental control units and generators," said Buel, a water and fuel systems technician. "After everything was set up and connected, one of the generators wouldn't work."

Buel discovered water had seeped into one of the cables causing a short, which prevented power from being supplied to the tents and ECUs. Since the inclement weather was impeding efforts, the repair job on the generator took about eight hours, said Buel. He didn't have a replacement cable so he had to repair the damaged one.

The repair job allowed tents to be living quarters for those who will be providing medical services to the local communities.

"Participation in Arctic Care is an outstanding opportunity for civil engineer personnel to ply their craft in a real-world environment," said Lafrazia. "While we can provide outstanding training at our tech schools and home station, the actual execution of operations will provide many challenges and experiences that build a base of incredible experience for our airmen."

Arctic Care resembles the type of cooperative effort necessary in an international crisis and prepares hundreds of servicemembers for future humanitarian or disaster relief missions.

"It's been a great experience working with military members of other services," said Seibold, an electrician. "I am also looking forward to getting out and assisting those in the remote villages."

April 14, 2016 at 11:36am

OSS airman selected for USAFA Prep School

Congressman Denny Heck, Representative for the Washington’s 10th Congressional District, and Senior Airman Jonathan McGregor, 62nd OSS aircrew flight equipment technician, pose for a photo, April 1, at JBLM. Photo credit: Tech Sgt. Tim Chacon

Senior Airman Jonathan McGregor, 62nd Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, was selected to become an officer as part of the Leaders Encouraging Airmen Development program and notified by Congressman Denny Heck, Representative for the Washington's 10th Congressional District, April 1.

LEAD is a program that was initiated in 1995 to encourage commanders to send their best and brightest to the United States Air Force Academy to earn a commission, after candidates are offered a year at the AFA Prep School to prepare for the Academy.

The Air Force Academy Prep School is a 10-month educational program for young airmen to take core curriculum courses at the USAFA Preparatory School prior to coming to the Air Force Academy. Upon successful completion of the Prep School, those being appointed to the AF Academy will be sworn in as cadets.

"I first heard about the Air Force Academy when I was a senior in high school," said McGregor. "But at that time, it was far too late for me to submit an application. I knew that it was one of my long-term goals and something I wanted to do."

The Air Force Academy selects airmen who have good test scores and who have been recognized as a leader of character all the way up to the squadron level of command. Attending the Prep School gives them a chance to get used to the differences between the operational Air Force and realize what will be expected at the Academy.

"Education has always been very important to me," said McGregor. "Both of my parents are educators and I attended two years of college before making the decision to go active-duty and have the Air Force pay for my college full-time once I was done training for my job."

Senior Airman McGregor said that he is interested in the medical field and is thinking about pursing a Major in biology.

"Being a Biology Major is my plan right now," said McGregor. "I have until my junior year to decide what I want to do, but that is my goal right now."

At the end of May, McGregor will have the opportunity to go and visit the Air Force Academy for the first time and talk with current cadets and personally witness the many opportunities and challenges the Academy has to offer.

"I know he is going to go there and do great things for our Air Force," said Lt. Col. Jaron Roux, 62nd OSS commander. "Every time I get a chance to talk with him, he just impresses me more and more, so I know he is going to do well at the Academy."

"I am very relieved that the selection process is over and I got accepted," said McGregor. "When I found out, I was very excited, appreciative and thankful that how ultimately something that I really wanted to do came true. I had a lot of help from a lot of different people along the way, and I didn't want to disappoint them. I want to just make everyone proud. I want to make my family proud."

April 21, 2016 at 11:49am

Team McChord honors their Key Spouses

Members of the Team McChord Key Spouses pose for a photo during the Key Spouse Luncheon April 13, 2016 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

More than 50 U.S. Air Force spouses received special recognition for their contributions to the Team McChord Key Spouse Program during the 2016 Key Spouse Appreciation Luncheon at the McChord Club, April 13 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"Today, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone on a military installation who hasn't felt the warmth of the Key Spouse Program.  As a Key Spouse, you are entrusted with taking care of not only your own family, but also of those from your units," said Tech. Sgt. James Lee, McChord Field Airman Leadership School instructor and emcee for the event.  "You enhance the mission by providing a two-way avenue between unit leadership and families."

"Simply put, you are the force multiplier when it comes to connecting families with services. And you have demonstrated success in strengthening units while building a sense of belonging and community. Our airmen are really good at what they do, and we need to be really good at taking care of their families. Our Key Spouses are the cornerstone that builds a strong family and maintains a resilient force."

The event, which included a free lunch and childcare for the spouses in attendance, was an opportunity for McChord commanders and first sergeants to show appreciation for everything key spouses do to support the airmen and the mission.

During the event, several guest speakers were given an opportunity to talk about the Key Spouse program.

Mrs. Diana Burr, McChord Field Key Spouse coordinator, was one of those guest speakers.

"I've been working with the Key Spouse program for about eight years," said Burr. "During this time, I've heard some pretty amazing stories regarding the work that our Key Spouses do every day. For this, I am extremely happy you are being honored today for your many, many contributions to our Team McChord families."

Burr spoke about the "time" Key Spouse volunteers put into this program and how grateful she was for that "time" they donate.

"When I think about the time you as a Key Spouse donate to our Air Force family, it truly humbles me," said Burr. "You go through trainings, attend meetings, commanders calls, spouse calls, deployment fairs, you take on phone calls, make meals for sick spouses or meals for families of a deployed military member, and you spend time sitting at hospitals when families need that comfort and support."

"You do all of this and yet you all have your own families to tend to; you have your own spouses; you have jobs; you go to school; you have your own kids events to attend. Still, time after time, year after year, you continue to volunteer your time supporting our community, making it stronger; making our Air Force stronger."

"So today, I'm here to say thank you. Thank you for graciously giving us and our families your time. You must know that you are an extremely valuable member of our team and of our Air Force family, and I truly appreciate and thank you for your time."

Another guest speaker for the event was Mrs. Stephanie McNeal, 62nd Operations Group Key Spouse and 2015 Team McChord Key Spouse of the Year.

McNeal spoke of how she was first approached about being a Key Spouse and how although she was introvert, she decided she would take on this role and how it has benefited her so much now.

"I have a servants heart, so when I was approached about becoming a Key Spouse, my automatic response was ‘absolutely, I will work where I am needed,'" said McNeal. "But then it started to sink in that I will have to approach strangers and introduce myself. I may even be a person's first impression of the squadron."

She spoke of overcoming those obstacles and for the past three years has been an active Key Spouse of McChord Field.

"I have sat for eight hours in hospitals, stayed overnight, provided meals, witnessed the birth of a baby, ran errands for sick spouse and babysat. Not because I am a Key Spouse but because I have developed a genuine and lasting friendship with many of the ladies in my local spouse group."

"Somewhere along the way I began to realize that introducing myself to incoming spouses and helping others, I was in turn helping myself more than anyone else.

"Because of the Key Spouse program, I have grown in confidence, have developed lasting friendships, and have been given some amazing opportunities that I had never even dreamed of wanting, like standing in front of you right now as the 2015 Team McChord Key Spouse of the year."

McNeal closed her comments with some words of wisdom for new Key Spouses.

"If I could leave you with just one piece of advice in all of this," said McNeal. "It would be make sure that you let your fellow spouses know how special they are to you and how honored they are serving right alongside you."

After the guest speakers talked, each Key Spouse in attendance was called onto stage where they were presented a certificate of appreciation by Team McChord leadership.

To close out the event, Col. Leonard Kosinski, 62nd Airlift Wing commander, provided his remarks.

"It is extremely tough to be a military spouse and even harder to be a Key Spouse," said Kosinski. "This event was the right thing to do to honor you, and hopefully we have set a tradition with this event.

"The Key Spouse program is a very important piece in taking care of our airmen and their families and directly ties back to overall mission success.

"Thank you for everything you do to support Team McChord and our Air Force family."

April 21, 2016 at 11:54am

A healthier menu

Members from the 627th Force Support Squadron pose for a photo April 14 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Divine Cox

More than 600 servicemembers are served daily at the McChord Field Olympic Dining Facility, thanks to the hardworking staff here.

Behind the scenes, more than twenty 627th Force Support Squadron personnel help keep airmen and soldiers fueled to fight.

One of the dietary programs the Olympic DFAC offers is the "Go for Green" nutrition service. Individual food items on the serving line are labeled by color representing their nutritional value. Green is healthy, yellow is moderately healthy, and red is the least healthy.

"As a military, we are starting to get fit to fight," said Tech Sgt. Jocelyn Ferber, 627th FSS DFAC manager. "So we have a lot of salads and offer a lot more healthy items for the ‘Go for Green' program."

According to Maj. Carrie Wentzel, 627th FSS commander, the Olympic DFAC recently implemented a significant improvement to its menu variety and quality of food called the "Chef-Net System."

"Not only did we add fifty percent more meal choices," said Wentzel. "We also have more flexibility to drop unpopular items from the menu."

Ferber said the new "Chef-Net System" increases the menu cycle from the old 14-day menu to the new 21-day menu.

"It took us (McChord Field) a long time to get this system installed," said Ferber. "We've been waiting on this system since 2014, so we are extremely excited that it is finally here."

Providing food service to servicemembers at the DFAC is a combined effort that includes civilian employees.

"We have a great working relationship with our civilians," said Ferber. "As we work side-by-side all day, we constantly strive for excellence when it comes to our customer."

The DFAC's hard-working staff pride themselves providing the best quality of food for its customers.

"I am very excited about the quality and healthier food choices we offer," said Senior Airman Jabari Superville, 627th FSS food service apprentice. "It's nice to see a lot more variety, as well as knowing we are providing food to help every airman stay physically fit."

April 21, 2016 at 11:59am

WA kid tops in U.S.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Lengyel, vice chief, National Guard Bureau, with John Trip Landon, National Guard Military Child of the Year 2016 - Arlington, Virginia, April 14. Photo credit: Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill

Trip Landon, 17, of Ellensburg, Washington, was recognized as the National Guard's 2016 "Military Child of the Year," during an April 14 ceremony, here.

Trip's father, Capt. John L. Landon, II, serves as a field artillery captain with the 66th Theater Aviation Command, part of the Washington National Guard. As a civilian, he is the assistant transportation director for the Ellensburg School District.

As the son of a soldier, Trip has seen his dad deploy twice as a guardsman: once to the Mexican border and once to Iraq - for a whole year. During that time, Trip said, he was the man of the house.

Trip was there to help his mother and a younger brother. His older brother, 22, is already in college.

"I think it has helped me appreciate exactly how much of a sacrifice (soldiers make)," he said.

Military children are strong, resilient and equipped to adapt to changes such as deployments, an Army spokesman said.

A homeschooler, Trip carries a 3.9 grade point average, and is a member of the National Honor Society and hopes to go into prosthetic engineering when he finishes his high school education.

Between his studies, he manages to squeeze in a dizzying array of activities. He's a golfer, for instance, where he's earned Academic Athlete honors and was voted "Most Inspirational Player."

As a member of the Ellensburg High School Orchestra, Trip plays both violin and piano. "It's something I started at a late age, compared to some other musically-talented kids," he said. "But I've grown to really like the music I've learned and that I can play."

He has an active interest in theatrical productions and film-making as well, along with extensive involvement in scouting.

Trip achieved the level of Eagle Scout at an early age, before he turned 15 years old. As part of that effort, he led both adults and other teens in the planning and construction of an archery range backstop. Earlier, he served in leadership roles within the Cub Scouts, and as a leader at scouting day camps and overnight camps, as well.

Trip said he's learned a lot about leadership - but what it really boils down to is selflessness, he said.

"I think the best traits of a leader are work ethic, self-awareness: you know what your weaknesses and strengths are; and also loyalty to your subordinates: you'll be with them all the way," he said. "You always admit when you're wrong and work hard all the way through."

What's he's learned as a leader in scouting, as well as in other areas of his life, he said, will serve him as an adult.

"I think being a leader early on in my life has helped me, so that when I am in a leadership role that is big, I will be ready and prepared and not caught off guard about what to do," he said.

How does a 17-year-old manage to do so much and still keep his GPA so high?

"Organization," Trip said. "You have to know how to be organized, how to prioritize your schedule. A lot of times my mom has been the backbone of that. She's taught me so much about scheduling and organizing - she's helped me a lot there."

While most of Trip's time is occupied with his education, scouting, sports and the arts, he finds time always to take care of the one thing he says he prioritizes above everything he does in his life:  the faith he shares with his family.

"I believe that faith is my center priority for all the activities I do, and I believe that's what drives me on to do those other activities," he said. "It's the center and power that gives me the energy."

It's his parents, he said, that drive him toward that faith. "I go with them to church every week - willingly," he said.

"They are role models in so many ways," Trip said about his parents. " ... They've taught me to help others and to share the gospel with everyone I meet."

Trip and his family arrived early in Washington, D.C., in advance of the Military Child of the Year awards. "I'm very humbled and excited at the same time," he said of the award.

While in town, he said, he's already visited the Iwo Jima Memorial and wants also to see the Jefferson Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Lincoln Memorial - the one he seems the most excited about. "I've heard so much about it, and seen it on TV. So I really would like to see that." 

April 22, 2016 at 11:05am

Airmen honored for rescuing 3 after helo crash

Tech. Sgt. Dean Criswell, right, the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron NCO in charge of rescue operations, receives the Airman’s Medal during a ceremony April 8, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Sean Campbell

Two airmen were given the Airman's Medal during a ceremony at Fairchild Air Force Base on April 8 for rescuing three airmen injured in a 2013 helicopter crash.

Maj. Matthew Arnold, the 336th Training Group chief of standards and evaluations, and Tech. Sgt. Dean Criswell, the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron NCO in charge of rescue operations, were participating in a routine training exercise in Okinawa, Japan, when an HH-60G Pave Hawk went down.

Both descended from the helicopter they were in to the flaming crash site. The fire had spread quickly, causing live rounds of ammunition to shoot off in all directions. The two managed to navigate the harsh surroundings to find their fellow airmen.

"Everyone's skills came together when it really mattered, including the pilot and the flight engineers; we all worked seamlessly together," Arnold said.

When they arrived on scene, Criswell performed a perimeter search for members of the crew. After the first member was found, Arnold recovered him and began to treat the crew member's wounds. Criswell continued to search for the other crew members and found two pilots who were both injured; one was unable to walk, requiring Criswell's assistance to move. Criswell escorted both men to a hovering helicopter. Once in the helicopter, Criswell administered medical aid.

"We happened to be the ones put on the ground closest to the danger," Criswell said, "but there are many unsung heroes to include many of the agencies we work with: the firefighters, the pilots, maintainers; anything we needed for the rescue was there."

Arnold returned to the area twice, helping the two pilots and filling the overhead command and control role while looking for the final crew member, Tech. Sgt. Mark Smith, who did not survive the crash.

"Mark Smith was a good friend whose loss was greatly felt. Every time we look at this medal we will think of him," Arnold said. "It is bittersweet because we saved three but lost one."

The Airman's Medal is the highest award that an airman can receive for heroic acts in a non-combat situation.

April 28, 2016 at 11:45am

Airmen train Australian maintainers

Airmen from the Royal Australian Air Force reinstall a cover door of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft trainer auxiliary power unit April 19, 2016, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

An airman working inside an aircraft engine asks a wingman to pass him a "torch". A torch is a common Australian term for a flashlight, and the airman asking for the flashlight is one of the Australian airmen attending maintenance training here at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The Australians are attending an aircraft maintenance class here Feb. 22 through April 25, conducted by the 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 12.

Each year more than 40 Australian airmen come to JBLM to receive training on C-17s. Classes are made up of 10-12 airmen and are usually split into two different groups, which consist of an aircraft avionics group and aircraft maintenance group. Classes usually last between eight to 12 weeks and entails airmen receiving training on 11 different C-17 trainers.   

"This has been a good course and the instructors go above and beyond to accommodate us," said Sgt. Brad Kay, Royal Australian Air Force 36th Squadron aircraft technician. "The hands-on instruction was great. Doing an engine change and being able to perform maintenance on things that don't commonly go wrong on C-17s was really helpful."

The Australian airmen receive instruction and training through formal lecture, written progress checks, and hands-on training on the maintenance training devices. The instructors work to translate and explain information in a variety of ways to reach the students.

"It's been fun working with them and learning about their culture and way of seeing things," said Staff Sgt. Byron Hand, 373rd TRS Det. 12 aerospace propulsions instructor. "Teaching them sometimes challenges us as instructors to teach based on different learning styles and to be able to see things from their perspective."        

The Australian airmen are very appreciative of the training they receive and the time and effort the instructors put forth in instructing them, said Craig Kelshaw, 62nd Operations Squadron foreign military personnel training coordinator.

"The instructors know how to relate to us ninety percent of the time," said Aircraftsman Jarron Russo, Australian Air Force 36th Squadron aircraft technician. "It was good to get a feel on how Americans operate. This should benefit any future deployments we have together."

Because of McChord's advanced state-of-the-art aircraft training facilities, the Royal Australian Air Force is one of many foreign militaries that are trained on McChord Field on the C-17.

"Congress mandates we train foreign military to foster goodwill globally," said Kelshaw.

"We are partners and allies on the global war on terror. We support them and they support us."

Australian airmen have been receiving training here since 2006 and are part of more than 1,100 foreign students from more than 30 countries that have received training here.   

"It's a great benefit and cost advantage for them to come here," said Kelshaw. "They are receiving the same training that our pipeline airmen receive."

The training benefits not only the Australians but also the instructors, said Hand.

"It gives us a different perspective," said Hand. "We are not just one team but a joint team providing airlift power to impact the world globally. The Australian airmen are also fun to hang around and it's good to learn their slang."


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