SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) --
A series of mobile applications developed by the 367th Training Support Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is giving Airmen ready access to Air Force standards, culture and basic doctrine.
While the unit -- part of the 82nd Training Wing’s 782nd Training Group at Sheppard AFB, Texas -- typically focuses on computer-based training in support of aircraft maintenance, its unique skill set proved a perfect match when the Air Force was looking for a way to put the “little blue book” and other core Air Force documents literally into the hands of Airmen.
“Our focus is mainly on developing computer-based training or videos for maintainers on the flightline,” said Tech. Sgt. Kaimi Pacheco, the app designer. “So developing mobile apps is a little out of the norm for us, which is challenging. The other products we create are mostly linear, or step by step, in nature, but when you’re developing apps you have to include functionality that lets the user go in many different directions.”
Still, the team was confident it could not only get the job done, but get it done quickly and exceed expectations.
“The little blue book was the first project, which they completed on a tight timeline to coincide with the book’s release,” said Tech. Sgt. Zach Davis, the Android developer.
“It was definitely a challenge,” he continued. “But with our strong, cohesive teams and individual commitment to the project, we were confident we could satisfy all the requirements, and even exceed a few.”
One way they exceeded expectations was by adding audio narration for all the text included in the app.
“That’s not something we routinely incorporate into our products,” said Master Sgt. Kasey Lynch, the project manager, “and it did prove challenging. Once we started producing audio assets we realized how much work goes into producing a perfect vocal narration -- varying vocal inflections, correct enunciation of words, consistent volume and even consistent pauses.”
The most critical audio decision was choosing the voice actor.
“We needed someone with a pleasing sound, but who had a neutral accent that would appeal to the widest audience,” Lynch said. “Now we jokingly refer to our voice actor -- Staff Sgt. Scott Summers -- as ‘The Voice of the Air Force.’”
The variety of devices and screen sizes was another issue the team had to consider.
“Developing mobile apps requires a lot more graphics support than a computer-based product, because we have to produce multiple versions of the same image to ensure the app looks good and works correctly for every potential device,” said Tech. Sgt. Rudy Gonzalez, a graphic designer.
Despite the challenges, the team completed the application on time and ensured it was available for Apple and Android devices when the book was released to the Air Force.
"The team truly came together to deliver an excellent product for our Air Force and Airmen,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody, who worked with the team to finalize the app. “Thanks to their hard work, our Airmen now have access to the little blue book in a format they often prefer.”
The success of the little blue book app led to three additional projects for the 367th TSS:
- Air Force Instruction 1-1, “Air Force Culture: Air Force Standards,” which is complete and available on Apple and Android markets (search for AFI 1-1)
- Air Force Instruction 1-2, “Air Force Culture: Commander’s Responsibilities,” also complete and available for Apple and Android (search for AFI 1-2)
- The Professional Airman’s Development Guide, which is given to new recruits in delayed enlistment status to help them prepare for basic military training, is 80 percent complete and in validation by Air Force Recruiting Service.
To download these apps, go to the Google Play Store on Android devices or the App Store on Apple iOS devices.