Ramstein students learn about Earth Day

by Airman 1st Class Brea Miller
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

In celebration of Earth Day, Ramstein Middle School sixth-graders were given the opportunity to observe one of the lesser known defense mechanisms of the base ― the falcon.

The 86th Airlift Wing Flight Safety Office and the 86th Operations Support Squadron Airfield Management Office provided a Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard demonstration to get middle school students excited and aware of the nature-friendly efforts on Ramstein.

BASH personnel use tools such as bird cannons, scare-away launchers and vehicle mounted acoustics as a way to keep unwanted animals off of the flightline but continue to use falconry as the most successful option to rid it of unwanted animals.

The Peregrine falcon is accepted as one of the fastest birds in the world. It can reach diving speeds, called stoops, of more than 200 mph.

These birds often travel widely outside of their nesting habitats giving them their name, which means the wanderer, yet with their incredible instincts are able to return back to their favored surroundings.

Gerhard Wagner, the base falconer, has been working with the falcons on Ramstein for eight years.

“To me, it’s really easy to work with the falcons,” Mr. Wagner said. “We train every day and their accuracy remains proficient. They are amazing animals that provide the tact needed to succeed in the daily operations of the 86th OSS.”

The daily work that goes into training these falcons has decreased the number of unwanted animals on the flightline.

“Since we’ve started the program we’ve had a tremendous drop down of bird activity on the airfield,” Mr. Wagner said. “When we started off, we had about 200 birds on the airfield every day and now the number has greatly decreased to about five a day.”

The soaring falcons left the students in awe and amazement as they watched the birds glide gracefully through the air in search of other animals that could bring possible harm to any aircraft.

The falcons’ mission is to survey the area to keep the airfield an animal-free zone, with no intentions of physical force.

“Since we are talking about the environment and how we are keeping it safer for the airplanes and the birds, I’d like them to learn how the falcon plays a part in that,” said Johnette Scott, Ramstein Middle School sixth grade science teacher.
For more than 40 years, Earth Day has inspired and mobilized individuals and organizations worldwide to be more conscience in their efforts to “go green.”

Many people have committed to better environmental protection and sustainability on this day and have agreed to make little changes in their everyday lives to make a better impact on the world.

“I feel that Earth Day is very important because this is where we live, so we should take better care of it,” said Shane (NAME??), 12, son of Special Agent Chad Hutchins, Air Force Office of Special Investigations. “It’s a way for me to help the environment by stopping the use of cans made with hazardous materials and recycle things more often.

Having the youth get active on Earth Day makes for a healthier and a more promising tomorrow by instilling better Earth protection and conservation.