Burundi air force members visit Ramstein

Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Four members of the Burundi air force visited Ramstein March 5 through 9 to get the U.S. Air Force’s point of view on staying safe.

The four lieutenant colonels were invited to Ramstein by the U.S. Africa Command and the U.S. Embassy to Burundi to familiarize them with the airfield, ground and flight safety programs the U.S. Air Force has.

Capt. Dennis Napier, 86th Airlift Wing flight safety chief, took the quartet on a tour of several different safety programs the 86th AW employs on a daily basis.

“The visit was focused around the ways we stay safe at the wing and Air Force wide,” Napier said. “The end result hovers around increasing their knowledge of our safety programs for them to see, use and adopt as needed.”

Napier said that just because the safety program works for the U.S. a certain way, doesn’t mean it will work for the Burundians. However, knowledge gained from the visit can be adapted to the way that works best for them.

“We learned many things,” said Lt. Col. Etienne Nduwayo, a member of the Burundi air force. “Here, it is forbidden to drive where you want without a (flightline driver’s) license and you have to check the wheels for (foreign object damage) before entering the airfield.”

He added that the airfields in Burundi do not have that level of security and it is a program they would like to implement in the near future.

“We just want them to go back home with some ideas,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Ulmer, 86th AW chief of safety. “If we give our partners just one good idea to go home with that they use, we could call this visit a success; prevention of an accident is a powerful tool that can save both lives and money. Having flown and worked in Africa, I know that initiatives like this get the ball rolling and allow for improved flight safety for everyone.”