***image1***Twenty-six members of the 37th Airlift Squadron put their skills to the test March 29 through April 3, participating in Exercise Leaning Tower in Pisa, Italy.
The group trained with the Italian military, performing formation low-level flights, evasive maneuvers and night vision goggle airdrop training.
“This whole exercise was made possible due to one of our Airmen meeting with an Italian commander while he was deployed in Kyrgyzstan,” said Lt. Col. J. R. Reid, 37th Airlift Squadron commander. “Their initial conversation led to formal arrangements between the U.S. and Italian military for this training mission.”
Four five-member 37th AS aircrews were accompanied by life support, aviation resource management and intelligence along with 25 members of the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron during the exercise. Each crew flew one five-hour low-level (1,000 feet above ground level) sortie per day, consisting of an average of six airdrops and two hours of night vision goggles.
The 86th AMXS was able to consistently keep two C-130E Hercules in the air for an average of two 5-hour sorties each per day, said Capt. Al Lane, deployed mission commander.
“There are many advantages to training in Italy,” Captain Lane said. “The quiet hours aren’t as strict, the weather is nice and there is more terrain. This gives us the ability to fly for longer periods of time and get plenty of quality training.”
Colonel Reid echoed this sentiment.
“Italy is a better training environment because we can do low-level flying and night vision goggle training without restrictions,” he said. “This is how we train for combat military operations to deliver equipment, supplies, food and troops. It’s all about training in combined operations and working on our interoperability with the Italians.”
Maj. Ciro Esposito, chief of plans and operations for the 46th Air Brigade in the Italian Air Force, said it was a pleasure to be able to host the 37th Airlift Squadron and he looked forward to more exercises and missions together.
“Working together and cooperation is a must,” said Major Esposito. “We are eager for the chance to join the 37th Airlift Squadron in low-level mission formation flying and NVG training in the future.”