***image1***Airmen, pilots and U.S. and German soldiers of the 21st Theater Support Command, the German Army and Ramstein received the opportunity to train ground crew members, riggers, jumpmasters, paratroopers, loadmasters, navigators and pilots during a recent joint training exercise.
The trip to the drop zone had been free of turbulence and the passengers of the plane had little to complain about except maybe that in their coats the 85-degree heat was a little uncomfortable.
The rear door of the C-130 opened and some 30 German paratroopers and 5th Quartermaster, 191st Ordnance Battalion, 29th Support Group airborne Soldiers —working cooperatively to keep their training regimen current — stepped out of the plane and into 30 degree air over the designated drop-zone.
“Now the pilots can get some training in for themselves,” said C-130 loadmaster Airman Greg Cook, who has been with the 86th Operational Support Squadron for more than two and a half years.
Suddenly, gravity jerked everything down. In the next instant, gravity tried to throw the remaining passengers from their seats causing seat belts to strain and cut into the laps of passengers.
The plane continued through the motions of standard evasive maneuver drills, practiced after every 5th Quartermaster training jump.
“In missions like this one, where airtime is valuable, everybody who can gets trained,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Schwarz, NCO in charge of operations for the 5th Quartermaster.
Orchestration of several different mission needs from Air Force pilots and their crews, along with U.S. and German Army paratroopers, takes time and many other obstacles have to be overcome before the mission even gets a green light, said Chief Warrant Officer Jose Colon, one of the Jumpmasters with the 5th Quartermasters.
The C-130 undergoes rigorous safety inspections before it can be cleared for take-off. Loadmasters inspect all items that will be dropped from the plane such as containers. Jumpmasters inspect the paratroopers’ personal equipment.
The goal is to avoid unwanted surprises, said Staff Sergeant Schwarz.
Chief Warrant Officer Colon said that even once in the air, the mission could be canceled at a moments notice. Jumpmasters must have a high enough cloud ceiling to be able to see the operation and make sure that everything is safe in the landing zone. Also, if the wind becomes too rough, endangering the mission’s safety, the exercise is immediately postponed, if not cancelled.
“Safety is the No. 1 priority in a mission like this,” said Staff Sergeant Schwarz.
“We love working together with 5th Quartermaster, we learn a lot from each other,” said German Army Paratrooper, 1st Lt. Mathias Wank, the operations officer for the 2nd Company, 262nd Airborne Support Battalion. “These guys really know their business.”