SPECIAL UNIT PROFILE
ANG 201st Airlift Sqn flies the flag
Elite unit uses Boeing BBJs to provide members of Congress, military leaders and senior US officials with global reach.
(Main photo) 201 AS personnel disembark Boeing C40C at OKAS (Ali Al Salem AB, Kuwait) during a stop on a recent round-the-world CODEL trip. (Top L–R) EVS view through HUD. Approaching DVO (Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines). Maj Mike Ethridge (L) and Lt Col Chris Hays in an onboard mission planning session. Flying Crew Chief Mike Jones cleans off the blades of one of the C40's CFM56 engines following a sandstorm in Kuwait.
C38 Instructor Pilot Capt Dan Logisz has been with the 201st for 10 years. As an instructor, he carries out initial checkout rides and supervises C38 operational and proficiency sorties.
Logisz is a "traditional" Guardsman—a full-time civilian pilot who flies Continental Boeing 737s from IAH as he has since Dec 2006. He has 5000 hrs TT (fixed-wing), nearly all on multiengine jets. Combining a civilian job and military service is a challenge, he says—"a balancing act" in which he does his Guard work on days when he's not flying commercial airliners.
Chief of Standards and Evaluation Lt Col Doug Andriuk has been with the unit for 3 years. Formerly 89 AW's chief of requirements, he is responsible for the 201 AS "customer cabin experience" and is thus in charge of the unit's cabin attendants. He gives check rides, writes standards, and directs and assigns evaluators to each aircraft.
Andriuk describes the 201st as "probably the most global of squadrons." To date its aircraft have visited 92 countries. Last summer (2010), for example, one of the squadron's C40s flew throughout much of Africa. The only continent unvisited so far is Antarctica. In fact, the squadron often flies what he calls "Magellan-type" missions. "The variety keeps you on your toes," he says.
201 AS prides itself on getting aircraft into and out of remote areas safely while following FAA guidelines (eg, 6000-ft runway minima).
"Our aircraft often go into airports not served by airlines," says Andriuk, noting that there have been times when the squadron has been asked to pick up heads of state and transport them to the US when the President cannot travel.
Director of Operations Lt Col Louis Campbell has served with DCANG for 22 years and joined 201 AS in Nov 2006.
Since acquiring its C40s, Andriuk observes, "Our customer base has shifted. In the past couple of years we've doubled or tripled the number of trips we do for the White House."
Predictably, certain countries have become frequent destinations for the 201st—an average month sees at least 1 C40 mission to Afghanistan or Iraq.
Andriuk notes that pilots can come to 201 AS with 3500 hrs TT but may only add 1000 before they leave. Assignments don't change, he says, which means that team members gain a lot of experience.
This is "AMC utopia," he says, citing the unit's top-of-the-line hardware and the VIP/CODEL mission, which he calls "golden."
Flight attendants attend Boeing LBA (Long Beach CA) for training and annual qualification, although it bears noting that military requirements are more stringent than those in the civilian world. In addition, flight attendants go to culinary school (not part of Boeing)—also located at LBA.
Connelly describes the flight attendants as the backbone of the squadron "because they face the DVs—and because they take service to the highest level."
SMSgt Vondella Stevens-Maynard is the squadron's flight attendant supervisor. A 25-year DCANG veteran, she has served with the 201st for 18 years.
As part of her role in standards and evaluation, Stevens-Maynard schedules and oversees flight attendant training. Safety comes first, she says, followed by comfort and reliability. Flight attendants receive some training in first aid, and an automatic external defibrillator (AED) is always assigned. The squadron has a contract with Medaire and frequently has a flight surgeon on board. All report to Stevens-Maynard.
Overseas flights usually carry 3 or 4 flight attendants, she says. Ground, air and safety currency are all required for mission readiness.
Mods for the mission
Commanding Officer Lt Col Sherrie McCandless's résumé includes time served in NGB and Congressional Legislative Liaison offices.
The first 2 C40s—02-0201 and 02-0202—were acquired in Sep 2002. Ex-Ford Motor Company machines, the 201st operated them initially on a lease-to-purchase program, and has since bought them. The third aircraft—02-0203—was manufactured new and delivered in Aug 2004.
The ex-Ford machines came with triple-row seating for 140–150 passengers. Pisani, who flew 02-0201 on its delivery flight, says that over a 5-year period the interiors—including the aft galleys—were "purposely redesigned for 20–30 people for a 2-week trip with everything they need."
The C40C cabin can accommodate up to 10 DVs but is typically set up for 7 or 8 plus staff and can seat 34 passengers. 201 AS's C40Cs differ from the Air Force's C40Bs in that the latter have the DV cabin aft, with secure communications for use by combatant commanders and high-level administration members, while the C40Cs have a midsection DV cabin and no secure comms.
201 AS's C40s are equipped with Inmarsat Aero-H phones. Although secure comms are not a requirement for its customers, the unit is considering the possibility of high-speed datalink and inflight Internet connectivity on its C40s. And, while the C38s are equipped with military radios, everything else on board is standard issue.
Maj Jason O'Brien is the 201st's chief of requirements and C40 program manager. All 3 of 201 AS's C40s are EVS equipped, he says—the outcome of a collaboration between Rockwell Collins, Boeing and the 201st that makes them unique in the 737 family.
Pisani was program manager for the C40 fleet from 2004–08.