Senior NCO, deployed from Maxwell, supports combat airlift missions as C-130 loadmaster

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
  • Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
Senior Master Sgt. Christopher "Chris" Brown is a C-130H Hercules loadmaster deployed with the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia.

Sergeant Brown is deployed from the Air Force Reserve's 908th Operations Group, 908th Airlift Wing, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. The 908th Airlift Wing in Montgomery, Ala., is Alabama's only Air Force Reserve unit, the wing's Web site states. The 908th AW "contributes to the nation's defense by providing airlift and related services through the efforts of more than 1,200 Reservists and eight C-130 Hercules aircraft."

As a C-130 loadmaster with the 746th EAS, Sergeant Brown regularly flies combat airlift missions in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility supporting Operation New Dawn, Operation Enduring Freedom and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. More recently, Sergeant Brown has been flying relief missions supporting the Pakistan flood relief effort.

According to his official Air Force job description for the 1A2X1 career field, loadmasters like Sergeant Brown accomplish loading and off-loading aircraft functions and perform pre-flight and post-flight of aircraft and aircraft systems. They also perform loadmaster aircrew functions, compute weight and balance and other mission specific qualification duties, and provide for safety and comfort of passengers and troops, and security of cargo, mail and baggage during flight.

Loadmasters like Sergeant Brown are skilled in a variety of abilities, the job description states. For example, in determining quantity of cargo and passengers or troops to be loaded and proper placement in aircraft, loadmasters compute load and cargo distribution. They also compute weight and balance, and determine the amount of weight to be placed in each compartment or at each station. To do this they consider factors such as fuel load, aircraft structural limits and emergency equipment required.

C-130 loadmasters also accomplish the initial pre-flight of aircraft according to flight manuals. They pre-flight specific aircraft systems such as restraint rail and airdrop equipment. They also pre-flight aerospace ground equipment and apply external power to the aircraft. Additionally, they perform in-flight and special mission specific duties as required.

When supervising aircraft loading and off-loading, loadmasters like Sergeant Brown ensure cargo and passengers are loaded according to load distribution plan. They direct application of restraint devices such as restraint rails, straps, chains and nets to prevent shifting during flight. They also check cargo, passengers and troops against manifests, ensure availability of fleet service equipment and brief passengers and troops on use of seat belts, facilities and border clearance requirements.

In the deployed environment, loadmasters like Sergeant Brown are trained to conduct cargo and personnel airdrops according to directives. They are trained to attach extraction parachutes to cargo and platforms and inspect cargo and platforms, extraction systems and connects static lines. They also check tie-downs, parachutes, containers, suspension systems and extraction systems to ensure proper cargo extraction or release.

To do their job while deployed or at home station, loadmasters have to maintain a wide array of mandatory job knowledge, the job description states. They must know the types, capacities and configuration of transport aircraft, emergency equipment and in-flight emergency procedures, personal equipment and oxygen use, communications, current flying directives, interpreting diagrams, loading charts and technical publications, border agency clearance dispensing and preserving food aboard aircraft, and cargo restraint techniques.

Sergeant Brown's service on deployment is consistent with the Air Force's history of a Total Force team -- active duty, Reserve and Air National Guard -- working together to complete the mission at home or while deployed, officials said. According to the Air Force Reserve Command Web site, the command provides the Air Force about 20 percent of its capability "with only about four percent of the total Air Force budget." Air Force Reserve Command supports space, flight test, special operations, aerial port operations, civil engineer, security forces, intelligence, military training, communications, mobility support, transportation and services missions. The command is also administratively responsible for all the Air Force's individual mobilization augmentees.