It takes a wing to fly

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Steve Catchings
  • 908th Airlift Wing
Leveling off at 4,000 feet, looking out of the windows, there is nothing but clouds. I can barely see the wing tip. Our scope shows five aircraft blips in perfect position behind us. This is something that some of these folks have never done. Yet, they are executing it with perfect precision. 

Maneuvering six C-130s in close proximity takes an incredible amount of training and team work. To reach the most basic level of qualification takes two to three years of intense training for each aircrew member. The squadron has to get them mission ready and maintain those skills through recurring training. It is at this moment I think about the orchestration of moving parts and hundreds of people that got us here.

On Sunday, April 12, the 908th Airlift Wing culminated a Mass Generation Exercise by launching a six-ship formation. It takes months to put together a scenario for a major exercise and a lot of coordination between IGI, CCO, WIT, commanders and subject matter experts. When the execution order hits, the synchronization of hundreds of 908th Reservists begins to spool up. Command Post sends the message, the Wing Commander convenes the CAT, and directives are sent out to the groups. 

Maintenance Group was tasked to generate 100 percent of all available aircraft and have them fully combat ready. Getting six aircraft configured for a combat deployment is a major undertaking, factoring in the additional checklists for armor, flares, chaff, Mode-4, etc.

Working 24-hour operations in order to meet the 72-hour deadline, they finished with enough time left allowing Ops to pre-flight and seal the aircraft for the Sunday mission.

Operations Group was tasked to generate six aircrews and a tactics plan to fly the aircraft in the weather to an airdrop on Dixie Drop Zone (located on the airfield) and then proceed to Fort Benning, Ga. to support the Army's Basic Airborne School.

The Mission Commander/Chief of Tactics planned the mission and coordinated the movement of the four-mile long string of aircraft.  Every detail and contingency was meticulously taken into consideration: crew requirements, weather backup plans, aircraft break plan options, etc.

This is where the year-long support of the 908th Mission Support Group and 908th Aeromedical Staging Squadron pays off. All of this hard work and planning is for naught if the aircrew and deploying crew chiefs are not ready to fly.  If they are not medically and administratively ready to deploy, the aircrew cannot step to the aircraft and the propellers do not turn. 
Every time that "Maxwell" tail flash leaves this base, we are supporting an external user whose mission success depends on us. We execute those missions with a great deal of pride and professionalism because we represent the members of the 908th Airlift Wing. 

The end result of this exercise was a perfect time on target and drop.  It took every single Reservist in the 908th to make this happen. 

Mission success rides on each and every one of you.