37th Airlift Squadron flies north to Iceland

Maj. Robert A. Baskette
37th Airlift Squadron

***image1***The C-130s at the 37th Airlift Squadron continued to get much needed flying training during their first deployment to Iceland.
While the runway at Ramstein Air Base was closed in September for repairs, the 37th AS trained in Iceland for 12 days as part of exercise “Blue Lagoon.”

“It provided an excellent opportunity to fly in a challenging new environment and complete all flying and training requirements while the runway here was closed,” said Capt. Bryan Dockter, 37th AS deployed mission commander.

The exercise was just one of the 37th AS quarterly training deployments aimed at increasing and maintaining the flying proficiency of its C-130 crewmembers.
“The success of this training deployment was dependent upon three main factors: night vision goggles training, fiscal year flying hours demands and the runway closure,” said Lt. Col. Bill Ward, 37th AS director of operations.

With the end of the fiscal year approaching, mandatory flying hours demanded that training could not stop, even while the runway was closed.

Scheduling conflicts with previous training locations drove the 37th AS to Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland, for the first time in squadron history.

“Night vision goggle training is extremely important as the environment in which we operate leans more and more to night operations, and the use of NVGs for tactical operations allows us to take off and land from unlit airfields with minimal aircraft lighting,” said 1st Lt. Pedro Cuadra, 37th AS deployed deputy mission commander.

The deployment accomplished 20 NVG upgrades, 11 evaluations, many currencies and more than 220 flying hours. Operations included NVG airland and ground operations, tactical low-level, airdrop, defensive maneuvers, fighter interfly and tactical approaches.

“It was the best five hour training sortie I’ve ever had,” said Capt Abigail Albert after one of the flights. “The amount of training items I was exposed to could not compare to previous flights.”
It took the cooperation of many agencies to ensure that the “Bluetails” had the facilities and airspace to complete all training requirements.

“The smooth integration of Ramstein base agencies with all of those at NAS Keflavik made this a very effective training deployment. The 37th will definitely look to NAS Keflavik again the next time they need to accomplish necessary training away from home station,” said Captain Dockter.

The 37th AS is responsible for providing support to an area of responsibility that stretches from Iceland to the east coast of Russia and as far south as South Africa.

To ensure that they are always ready to accomplish this mission they must constantly maintain their combat readiness through upgrade training, maintaining currencies and administering flying evaluations.