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Hickam aircrew maximizes training in Guam

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mike Meares
  • 15th Wing Public Affairs
It took 23 passes over designated drops zones and a 12-hour tactical duty day of training to finish a single day of airdrop training in Guam.

An aircrew from the 535th Airlift Squadron from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, dropped four training pallets, five container delivery system bundles, and more than 30 static line jumpers while maximizing its training opportunities away from home station Jan. 11.

"We don't always get the opportunity to bring our Hickam assets off station for equipment airdrop operations," said Capt. Alan Partridge, a C-17 Globemaster III pilot and 15th Operations Support Squadron chief of tactics. "It's a lot more complicated to do this off station and we can design the training around the requirements of our users to maximize the training."

It's the beginning of a new year, a new quarter and there are Airmen who need proficiency training to prepare for an operational readiness exercises and major exercises in foreign nations in the near future. It usually takes multiple training days to get the proficiencies complete, Captain Partridge said.

"Putting all the work in one day was basically how the schedule fell," he said.

The schedule for the crew was tight as they had several customers to work with during a short amount of time. Loadmasters and pilots dropped nine pallets for their airdrop qualifications.

Each of the different types of training platforms required different aircraft configurations. The first two stations of heavies were configured before the mission ever left the ground with the proper parachute configuration. The final two of the four heavies were configured on-the-fly.

"It's realistic training because they are doing a lot of drops down range now, especially with the (container delivery system), hitting multiple drop zones," said Senior Master Chick Baker, from the 15th Wing plans and programs office. "That is why it was good training for us to rig multiple stations during this training."

The aircrew then landed to reconfigure again for the five container delivery system pallets, while getting the necessary upgrade training for the loadmasters at the same time.

"That is something we could not do in one day because of limited resources at Hickam," said Master Sgt. Brian Chewning, a 535th AS airdrop loadmaster. "It was a good day."

But the day wasn't over, even after successfully dropping all the training platforms. The 36th Contingency Response Group static line jumpers were one such unit who needed some time in the air. But there was a problem.

The drop zone for the jumpers was closed because it was occupied by aircraft on the field and construction. After towing one of the aircraft out of the way, it opened up a more than 800-yard section for the jumpers. With safety zones, the drop zone got smaller and smaller.

"There was less than 300 yards of actual usable drop zone, and we were traveling around 75 to 80 yards a second; it left us little room to work with," Captain Partridge said. "That equates to roughly three seconds, and why we had to make so many passes over the drop zone."

With only a three-second window, and counting one jumper per second ratio, it took 11 more passes to finish the training.

"It's a synergistic relationship," the captain said. "They get to train with us for their drops, but bigger picture, we are forming this operational relationship for the future."