June 30, 2017 (by MSgt. Jeff Walston) - Airmen from the 913th Airlift Group reached another milestone, when on June 15, 2017, elements of the Group completed their first all Reserve 3-ship flight.
A C-130J Super Hercules drops a heavy equipment training load during a training sortie over Black Jack Drop Zone on June 15, 2017, near Beebe, Ark. Flying training missions enhances skills used by 913th Airlift Group Airmen during humanitarian and combat missions. [USAF photo by MSgt. Jeff Walston]
The sortie came as a surprise for mission planners, when the 19th Airlift Wing offered up an extra training line for the 913 AG.
“When we got the offer for another aircraft to fly, we took it,” said Lt. Col. Chris Dickens, assistant operations officer, 327th Airlift Squadron. “It’s unusual for us, but we welcomed the challenge.”
Although this was the Group’s first all Reserve 3-ship flight, it is not their first multi aircraft sorties. Aircrews from the 327 AS have flown six and nine ship sorties with their active duty counterparts in the 19 AW.
The flight, however, almost didn’t happen due to extreme weather.
During the mission briefing, Capt. Benjamin Buchanan, chief of safety, 327 AS, briefed pilots on severe thunderstorms entering the area that could have forced the aircraft to turn back to the safety of the base midflight, but the sortie took place as planned. Loadmasters checked cargo loads and aircrews completed preflight checklists as the storms passed overhead.
The three C-130J Super Hercules left on a three-hour training flight that included an airdrop of a heavy-equipment training load at Black Jack Drop Zone near Beebe, Arkansas, as well as practicing tactical formation maneuvering and touch-and-go landings at Little Rock Air Force Base.
After the mission, 327 AS Airmen discussed the flight and what was learned.
“The C-130J is an advanced tactical airlifter with a distinctive blend of agility and performance. Mastering knowledge and performance of the aircraft is essential to successful operations, and training is the key factor,” said Chief Master Sgt. Donald Tarrance, superintendent, 327 AS. “Being given the opportunity to fly in large formations is necessary to optimize aircraft availability and aircrew training.”