Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Devin Boyer
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs August 6, 2020
Aircrew from the 37th Airlift Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, flew to Chièvres, Belgium to familiarize 424th Air Base Squadron Emergency Response Flight firefighters with the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, July 27.
The familiarization gave firefighters the hands-on training they needed to safely respond in the event of an aircraft mishap, enabling the 37th AS to conduct vital training they can’t get otherwise in the air space over Germany.
“We don’t have many landing zones available to us,” said Capt. Jonathan Hansen, 37th AS pilot. “Landing on a large runway versus a small one comes with different challenges, and as a result, we come up here to Chièvres to train and get a little more familiarity with small landing zone operations.”
In order to stay sharp, pilots conduct flights on a regular basis to practice low altitude flying, runway approaches and maneuvers. However, the training would not be possible at Chièvres without the ground support.
“Because Chièvres is such a good playground for us to do our proficiency sorties, the fire department needs to be here in order to facilitate that training,” said Hansen. “Without them, we can’t come here.”
Loadmasters gave a walk-through of the aircraft to show the firefighters points of entry and key components of the aircraft they may interact with in an emergency.
“We have a lot of new personnel who have never been inside a C-130, let alone learned shutdown procedures and door operation procedures as required for us to make entry in the event that an aircraft is to have some sort of emergency,” said Tech. Sgt. Kendall Walters, 424th ABS Emergency Response Flight assistant chief of health and safety.
The walkthrough of the aircraft gave the firefighters a chance to see where important components are located to better prepare them for a real-world scenario.
“If there’s going to be an emergency, it’s going to be smoky if there’s fire,” Walters said. “Having a muscle memory of where the switches and throttles are for shutdown, it really comes like second nature, and if you don’t have the ability to do that on a live aircraft, then you lose that muscle memory.”
By providing ground support in Belgium, the 37th AS can utilize Chièvres’ landing zone to enhance their training capabilities.
“I really think by us being able to support and keep their mission going, it allows the Air Force to train better,” Walters said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the mission.”