CRAFT flies into AAFB

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kari Degraffenreed
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The Comprehensive Readiness for Aircrew Flying Training program took flight at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma before the start of the new year to build onto the training that mobility pilots, loadmasters, and boom operators already receive at the 97th Air Mobility Wing.

CRAFT is a program meant to optimize aircrew as “human weapon systems,” providing customized wellness solutions for the unique demands of aircrew performance. 

“We’re looking to provide cognitive performance, strength conditioning and performance nutrition to help aircrew perform better,” said Sarah Woolfolk, CRAFT site lead and cognitive performance specialist. 

Woolfolk previously worked as the cognitive specialist for the same program at Vance AFB,Oklahoma. She said she can already see the different needs between the two bases and who the program should cater to at AAFB. 

“Vance was very pilot driven, while here at Altus we have a diverse aircrew population incorporating pilots, boom operators and loadmasters,” said Woolfolk. “There are additional differences such as the age range of students and the experience level from students all the way to instructors. Our goal is to make sure that we're targeting those populations effectively and efficiently."

CRAFT is currently providing one-on-one consultations for instructors and students on the topics of nutrition and cognitive performance. The consults include body composition testing, nutritional guidance, academic study skills and strategies, fatigue management, stress management, and more. 

For the strength and conditioning aspects of the program, the base’s performance training center is scheduled to open within the next two months for aircrew to use. The facility is a specialized training center with expert-level coaching to give them a foundational understanding of fundamental movement patterns, exercise programs, and training strategies relevant to their crew position. 

While traditional training prepares aircrew to operate and take care of aircraft under different circumstances, CRAFT seeks to better prepare the pilots, loadmasters, and boom operators to take care of every part of themselves to ensure burn out and injuries are kept to a minimum. 

The program is expected to be fully staffed and operational by summer of 2023, though aircrew can meet with the specialists now to seek help for injuries, diet and mental clarity. 

"Aircraft sorties and simulator missions are a significant investment of time and money in our students,” said Senior Master Sgt. Lindy Mehaffy, CRAFT contracting officer representative. “CRAFT allows us to make sure students are prepared to maximize the training value of these events and succeed in their programs."