September 11, 2016 (by TSgt. Ryan Labadens) - The 815th Airlift Squadron “Flying Jennies”, an Air Force Reserve unit assigned to the 403rd Wing here, flew a four-aircraft training exercise today, their first multi-element training mission since the squadron found out in 2015 that it was no longer scheduled for inactivation.
An 815th AS C-130J aircraft flies over the Mississippi Gulfcoast during a four-aircraft training mission on September 11, 2016. The aircraft took off from Keesler AFB, and airdropped simulated cargo and heavy equipment over Stennis International Airport, Mississippi. [USAF photo by TSgt. Ryan Labadens]
The 815th AS is a tactical airlift unit that uses 10 C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to transport supplies, equipment and personnel in a theater of operation. The four aircraft flown for this mission were training on performing airdrops to a forward operating base and employing countermeasures to avoid enemy fire.
Maj. Mark Suckow, 815th AS pilot, said that normally for this type of mission two C-130J aircraft are used, but since the squadron has been slowly increasing its manning, they decided fly with four aircraft for this training.
“We want our guys to be as capable as they can be when it comes time to deploy, so this is the best way to stay proficient at what we do,” said Suckow.
The 803rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the newest addition to the Air Force Reserve’s 403rd Wing, was activated today and ensured the four aircraft were prepped and in flight-ready condition for the training. The maintenance squadron is responsible for the inspection, repair, launch and recovery of the wing’s 10 C-130Js.
During the flight, the four aircraft airdropped one 15-pound sandbag and one 800-pound container delivery system each over the drop zone at Stennis International Airport, Mississippi. The sandbag simulated delivery of heavy equipment while the container simulated supplies such as food, ammunition or medical equipment, said Master Sgt. Chis Sentilles, 815th AS loadmaster.
“This is a really good way to resupply forward operating bases. This is a vital lifeline for getting them the supplies they need,” said Sentilles.