AAFB aircrews demonstrate agility, spice up training during severe weather

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Miyah Gray
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Instructor pilots, boom operators and loadmasters from Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, turned an obstacle into an opportunity during a period of severe weather, Jan. 20-25, 2023.

Before winter weather struck AAFB, aircrews from the 56th Air Refueling Squadron were in Travis AFB, California undergoing “seasoning” - a training scenario in which KC-46 Pegasus instructors taught other aircrew members who are relatively new to the aircraft.

“This training gave us the opportunity to push a lot of the lessons we’ve learned and skills we’ve gained as current instructors,” said Master Sgt. Jake Nenneman, 56th Air Refueling Squadron superintendent. “We were able to play the role of the students and make some of the mistakes we’ve seen them make under a controlled scenario.”

When  inclement weather arrived in Altus, AAFB leaders deployed additional aircraft to preserve the base’s student training mission in the form of four KC-135 Stratotankers, one KC-46 Pegasus and five C-17 Globemaster IIIs. The aircraft traveled to Travis AFB and Beale AFB, California, January 23-25 to give student pilots, boom operators and loadmasters the opportunity to become familiar with off-station procedures and continue to build on their Airmanship basics while operating at an unfamiliar airfield.

“This exposure helped prepare the students for the multitude of unfamiliar airfields they will see once they are fully mission qualified crew members at their home units,”  said Capt. Dylan Radka, 58th Airlift Squadron instructor pilot. “The flexibility that the 97th (Air Mobility Wing) showed for the inclement weather evacuation proves that we are capable of training our Airmen no matter the circumstances. The ability to train off-station increases students’ overall Airmanship and makes them well-rounded aviators.”

The students performed multiple training exercises including loadmaster initial qualification evaluations, night tactical arrival, tactical departures, night assault landing zone approaches, night aerial refueling and more. In total, the flying squadrons completed 25 training sorties and completed 38 training events over three days.