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Monster mash-up: Monster training, monster results

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Behind closed doors, there lies a monster in wait. This monster is designed to expedite the training of Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, student loadmasters and improve their overall skills.

The monster garage is a simulated cargo area of a C-130J used as a hands-on training tool by student loadmasters and their instructors to forge effective tactical airlifters.

“The monster garage is a critical aspect of training,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Matt Harms, 62nd Airlift Squadron superintendent. “It enhances the student’s experience and the instructor’s ability to teach.”

Students train in this simulated cargo area almost every week and regularly return to it throughout their training to gain hands-on experience with the C-130J cargo area, as well as aircrew flight equipment before practicing on actual aircraft. The use of blended modalities enhances training effectiveness by augmenting traditional learning techniques. 

“Everything is like little pieces of a puzzle,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Charles Campbell, 62nd AS flight chief of training. “If we teach one piece of the puzzle today, we’ll take you to the monster garage to train the first day. Then the next day we’ll go out to the aircraft to practice, so it’s a building block process. It’ll take them from the ground level all the way to graduation.”

Using a building-block curriculum allows students the opportunity to train and learn in a controlled environment, while receiving one-on-one mentoring from an instructor loadmaster. Utilizing this teaching style affords Airmen the chance to make mistakes and still be safe.

“In the monster garage, we’re not working under adverse conditions,” Campbell said. “Inside we can take our time and have the students build up muscle memory and hone techniques, so that it’s much smoother and safer when we put them out on the aircraft.”

Operating as the premiere C-130 loadmaster training school for the U.S. Air Force, instructors and students take great pride in knowing they’re forming the bedrock of the next generation of loadmasters.

“The phrase ‘Herk nation starts here,’ is 100 percent true because we affect every single pilot or loadmaster that goes out to the mobility air force once they graduate through the Air Education and Training Command,” Harms said. “The monster garage assists with that in a big way.”

The monster garage is housed in the Center of Excellence, which trains C-130J aircrew members from the Department of Defense, U.S. Coast Guard, 47 partner nations resulting in a more effective military and support network around the world.