FLIGHT DEPT OF THE YEAR
America’s 89th AW—best of the best
US Air Force’s SAM FOX carries ranking leaders using mixed fleet of 18 Boeing and Gulfstream aircraft.
EATC—more than a charm school
Most of the civilian employees who work in the Mission Ops Center are former 89 AW navigators. (L–R) Mission Planners James Jackson, John Bly and Dave Beath, Dep Chief Mission Ops Joe Flynn, and Mission Planners Dan Weiss and Danny Hutton.
Many of the skills required of crews of the 89th are polished at the EATC, which falls under the jurisdiction of 89 OSS Commander Lt Col Al Smith and serves as both aircrew training center and “charm school.”
EATC superintendent is Senior Master Sgt Robert Sullivan. EATC is where the 89th teaches its culture. Specifically, this covers advanced protocol, such as how to address senior VIPs, together with standardized levels of service, customs and procedures.
But, just as importantly, EATC trains pilots, CSOs and flight attendants. Most recent acquisition is a graphical flight simulator (GFS) flight training device (FTD) bought from FSI. Simulator use is linked directly to a $4.5-million cost savings (calculated on flight hours per aircraft), while use of mission-oriented training and introduction of the FTD has already led to an increase in proficiency.
Crews from other units also attend EATC. These include Combatant Command (COCOM) C37A pilots and engineers (specifically from HIK, MCF and Chièvres, Belgium). Creating this “waterfall of training” helps contain costs and also aids with mission planning and normal/ abnormal procedures.
In one classroom laptops are set up to replicate actual onboard systems and facilitate CSO communications training. Elsewhere, flight attendants undergo all levels of kitchen training from basic through intermediate and advanced culinary courses.
Safety and schedules
All food for 89 AW missions is prepared by hand, says 99 AS Flight Attendant Tech Sgt Allison Miller. As standardization flight attendant for 89 OG, she performs annual assessments and does no-notice evaluations at least once a month.
Miller has been with the Air Force for 17 years and began her 2nd tour with 99 AS in Aug 2005. Previously based at MCF, all her experience is on Gulfstreams. Miller flies 2 or 3 weeks out of every month. If no check rides are called for, she flies either as a flight attendant or an instructor.
All flight attendants are qualified in emergency egress procedures. “Our primary job is safety,” she explains, “but we wear different hats... We pick food up at the commissary and prepare it here. We are the baggage handlers, we do customs and security, we go grocery shopping, we cook and we do the clean-up.”
She adds, “We like to say, ‘We walk the world.’” Master Sgt Tangella Brown is a flight attendant with 1 AS. As operations superintendent, she not only ensures that missions are manned with the best crew compliment but deals with matters relating to students, instructors and upgrades.
She joined the US Air Force in Oct 1988. Five schedulers report to Brown. They rotate on a 2-week cycle, which allows them time to perform their other duties as flight attendants and CSOs.
Staff Sgt Siegfried Herrmann is one of 24 flying crew chiefs (FCCs) with 89 MG.
He joined the Air Force 9 1/2 years ago and began his tour with the 89th in 2006. This is a 5-year tour for Herrmann, who flies an average 1 or 2 missions a month. For the past year he has been flying as an FCC on C32 missions, where he conducts and oversees maintenance on the road.
Together, DynCorp Deputy Aircraft Branch Mgr Michael Jeffers (L) and Aircraft Branch Mgr Lewis Dickerson have 46 years of experience at ADW. Behind them is a 99 AS Gulfstream C20B.
When not flying, Herrmann trains and manages mission support kits for the aircraft. Most 89 AW scheduled and nonscheduled maintenance, other than that on the VC25As, is undertaken by civilian contractor DynCorp, which has a huge presence at ADW. DynCorp Intl (Andrews Support Division) Aircraft Branch Mgr Lew Dickerson and Deputy Aircraft Branch Mgr Michael Jeffers both report to Maintenance Ops Dir Kevin Doyle.
Like most of the 225 or so maintenance technicians working for DynCorp on site, Dickerson and Jeffers are ex-Air Force civilians. While Dickerson has been with DynCorp since 2000, he has spent 36 years working at ADW, including his years of USAF service.
“I’m a ‘ground pounder’ now,” he says. “We all work together—it’s like a family.” Jeffers began his time at ADW 10 years ago when he served in the US Air Force. He has worked for DynCorp since early 2008. All the technicians report (through their chiefs) to Jeffers or Dickerson, who together form a kind of “tag team.”
Like the activity it supports, DynCorp is a 24/7 operation with technicians working 3 shifts around the clock. DynCorp technicians carry out scheduled inspections and flight lab tasks, perform avionics work and take care of any issues with transient aircraft.
Teams are organized into 2 flights—maintenance and support. The MX Flight consists of line mechanics and electronics technicians, while the Support Flight comprises the inspection dock, tool room and transient alert section.
Dickerson notes that DynCorp ADW has won FAA’s Diamond Award for maintenance excellence 7 times so far. “There’s got to be a certain mindset,” he says. “You start with inner pride. We have a slogan—Perfection is our standard. If you don’t have a target, you’re not going anywhere.”
Alongside the pride that Dickerson refers to is a trust in his comrades. It feels like a big family. Performing a complex set of tasks in which, by definition, there is absolutely no room for error, has its daily satisfactions. As Jeffers says, “We feel we’re contributing to a part of history.”