News>Transient alert Airmen handle diverse airfield operations role
KARSHI-KHANABAD AIR BASE, Uzbekistan -- Staff Sgt. Sammy Ayala positions a fire bottle while preparing a C-17 Globemaster III for parking April 28. He is a transient alert Airman and KC-10 Extender crew chief with the 416th Air Expeditionary Group's transient alert flight. He is deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)
KARSHI-KHANABAD AIR BASE, Uzbekistan -- Staff Sgt. Sammy Ayala gives directions to the crew of a Russian-built AN-12 cargo plane here May 2. He is a transient alert Airman and KC-10 Extender crew chief with the 416th Air Expeditionary Group's transient alert flight. He is deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)
KARSHI-KHANABAD AIR BASE, Uzbekistan -- Staff Sgt. Brian Fentress moves a maintenance stand here May 2. He is a transient alert Airman and aerospace ground equipment technician with the 416th Air Expeditionary Group's transient alert flight. He is deployed from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)
KARSHI-KHANABAD AIR BASE, Uzbekistan -- Tech. Sgt. Emily Green listens to her radio while watching a C-130 Hercules leave on an Operation Enduring Freedom mission from here May 2. She is the noncommissioned officer in charge of the 416th Air Expeditionary Group's transient alert flight and is deployed from McChord Air Force Base, Wash. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)
by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
416th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
5/4/2005 - KARSHI-KHANABAD AIR BASE, Uzbekistan (AFPN) -- On any given day, at any hour, the eight Airmen with the 416th Air Expeditionary Group transient alert flight here might be parking or caring for a transient C-17 Globemaster III or a Russian-built AN-12 cargo plane.
Many of the transient aircraft that stop at the airfield are only here a short time, said Tech. Sgt. Emily Green, noncommissioned officer in charge of the flight. Because of those short “turns” by the planes, it means the Airmen have to be ready at a moment’s notice, 24 hours a day.
“One of our main tasks is to coordinate parking,” said Sergeant Green, a C-17 crew chief deployed from McChord Air Force Base, Wash. “That coordination is critical to make sure we meet the requirements for whatever types of aircraft we have inbound on any given day.
“We have to be flexible because we sometimes get planes added to our schedule, which means we have to get creative and fit the planes on the ramp,” Sergeant Green said.
The creativity Sergeant Green refers to is the possibility of having a C-17, C-130 Hercules, a C-21 and an AN-12 parked on the transient ramp at the same time. The different sizes of the planes mean actual measurements are needed to ensure safe parking.
“Whether it’s during the day or at night, our team makes it work and have done so very successfully this entire deployment,” Sergeant Green said. “Our mix of people creates a team who understands many different types of airframes and the needs of each of them, thus making the creativity part of our job, when required, a little easier.”
The team’s Airmen come from five different bases, four different Air Force specialties and three different major commands.
“Everyone here is learning to do ground handling and servicing that we don’t have the opportunity to do at home station,” Sergeant Green said. “We all will take this experience home with us and be able to add on to it as we are sent out on future deployments.”
Staff Sgt. Larry Gibson, an aerospace ground equipment craftsman deployed from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, said his experience with supporting the airlift mission here has been a “different experience.”
“It’s different because we do things here we don’t normally do in our career field,” he said. “I have learned how to fuel many different types of aircraft. I’ve also assisted in a brake change, propeller change, removed and replaced a leading edge and did an engine run on a C-130. I was also able to help troubleshoot and isolate a hydraulic failure on a C-17 by identifying a burst hydraulic line.”
Besides taking care of the planes, the flight also takes care of the aircrews, said Airman Senior Airman Matthew Denham, an AC-130 gunship crew chief deployed from Hurlburt Field, Fla.
“Besides maintaining all transient aircraft, we also work to provide the crews with food and fleet service when they need it,” he said. “After all, the people who fly the planes are most important to the mission, and taking care of them is critical, so we help out wherever we can.”
The transient alert Airmen here said whether it is parking, fueling, repairing, escorting aircrews, or preparing a plane for its next mission, it is because of their multitasked mission and experiences that success is achieved every time they put on a headset, climb into their vehicle and head out to the flightline.
The transient aircraft bring critical supplies and people who support Operation Enduring Freedom, said Airman 1st Class Willie Domingue, a KC-10 Extender crew chief deployed from Travis AFB, Calif. “Our work is essential, and our team gets it done. No one person in our flight can get this done -- it takes precise coordination and dedication by everyone.”
Staff Sgt. Donald Lister, a flying crew chief for C-130s deployed from Yokota AB, Japan, said without transient alert, maintainers for the aircraft assigned here would be constantly pulled from their work to take care of transient aircraft.
“Transient alert allows the airfield to operate seamlessly by handling the transient aircraft without disrupting the maintenance and missions of the planes stationed here,” Sergeant Lister said. “We take care of every aspect of transient aircraft -- from the moment a plane lands until it takes off.”
All of the transient alert Airmen said they have learned something new in their diverse mission here.
“None of these Airmen came over here thinking they’d refuel an MI-8 helicopter or park a Russian-made plane carrying mail,” said Lt. Col. Bob Champion, 416th AEG deputy commander for operations. “Their learning curve was steep, but they’ve done exceptional work dealing with all the different airframes and challenges that comes with the transient alert duty at this base. I’m proud of them for all they’ve done.”