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Loadmasters: Aerial excellence through continuous training

Man looks at props of C-130J.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ryan Maxey, 41st Airlift Squadron loadmaster, inspects the props of a C-130J at Kingsley Field, Oregon, July 14, 2018. Maxey is tasked with performing preflight checks on the entire aircraft before each flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Pilots look out of cockpit.

U.S. Air Force pilots perform evasive maneuvers over Kingsley Field, Oregon, July 14, 2018. During air-to-air engagements, loadmasters position themselves in the ‘bubble’ at the top of the aircraft to see around the aircraft and conduct visual reconnaissance when radar would be unreliable or slow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Man directs forklift.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Armando McCarty, 327th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, directs a forklift towards the back of a C-130J at Kingsley Field, Oregon, July 14, 2018. Loadmasters are responsible for the loading, securing and unloading of all cargo on their plane. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Man points to map other man is holding.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Benjamin Evans, 34th Combat Training Squadron loadmaster, reviews a map with Capt. Hunter Hamer, 19th Operations Group standardization evaluation liaison officer, over Kingsley Field, Oregon, July 14, 2018. Loadmasters regularly assist pilots in various tasks the pilots may be unable to accomplish such as navigating. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

Hopping from an undisclosed location in Afghanistan to multiple bases in the U.S., while carrying thousands of pounds of cargo in a few months, loadmasters ensure the safety and integrity of everything from packages to people aboard their aircraft.

Keeping up with such a demanding career field can be a little overwhelming at times, but thanks to training during a temporary deployment to Kingsley Field, Oregon, loadmasters from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, were able to sharpen skills used both in-garrison and deployed.  

“The basic duties of a loadmaster are weight and balancing of the aircraft,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ryan Maxey, 41st Airlift Squadron NCO in charge of standards and evaluations. “Making sure we’re within limits for all operations including: airdrops, take-offs and landings, assisting the pilots with preflight checks and inflight emergencies.”

Juggling all of these responsibilities in multiple environments requires flexibility and complete knowledge of their role in accomplishing the mission. Loadmasters must train constantly to be able to efficiently execute that role.

“The training has to be there,” Maxey said. “You can’t hope to accomplish something for the first time, while deployed. You need a level of proficiency built up from training before taking that task on.”

Enduring the transition period from learning to acting can be strenuous, but Little Rock loadmasters managed the successful operation of a critical role of a bubbleer during the training. A bubbleer is a loadmaster who will sit in a plastic bubble in the top of the aircraft to check for dangers radar might not be able to detect.

“You go over these tactics to be able to survive,” said Staff Sgt. George Childres, 41st Airlift Squadron instructor loadmaster. “To be able to go over these tactics is crucial.”

While effectively utilizing these tactics during an exercise and out in the field are two totally separate acts, Maxey is confident that Little Rock loadmasters are training to win-the-fight.

“Everybody’s life is on the line in combat situations and we can’t have any idle hands,” Maxey said. “For us to be training like this helps us survive those situations and get home safe.”

 

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