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Monster mash-up: Monster training, monster results

Two men hover over rope rigging.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kyle Brooks, 314th Operations Group instructor loadmaster, teaches U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Caleb Hertzler, 714th Training Squadron student loadmaster, about rigging on a heavy equipment load in the monster garage at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Jan. 9, 2019. Loadmaster students undergo multiple hours spent one-on-one with instructors, until they are fully certified in their job. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Two men are bent over a table, while looking at a tablet.

U.S. Airman 1st Class Landon Swindle, 714th Training Squadron student loadmaster, receives training from U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Noah Polcar, 314th Operations Group instructor loadmaster, in the monster garage at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Jan. 9, 2019. The monster garage is designed to give students hands-on training before they get on an aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

A man looks at a man in the foreground of the photo.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Eric Morris, 16th Airlift Squadron student loadmaster from Charleston AFB, discusses cargo delivery system bundle rigging with U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Josh Herrier, 314th Operations Group instructor loadmaster, in the monster garage at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Jan. 11, 2019. Students use the monster garage as a critical tool in their development towards being qualified loadmasters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Two men stand in the upper right of the photo.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Eric Morris, 16th Airlift Squadron student loadmaster from Charleston AFB, discusses cargo delivery system bundle rigging with U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Josh Herrier, 314th Operations Group instructor loadmaster, in the monster garage at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Jan. 11, 2019. Morris will go over almost every aspect of cargo space of a C-130J in the monster garage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Two men stand in front of shelves.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Christian Elkins, 714th Training Squadron student loadmaster, and U.S. Air Force Airman Matthew Meyer, 714th Training Squadron student loadmaster, examine pieces of equipment found on a C-130J in the monster garage at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Jan. 11, 2019. The monster garage is a training area designed to replicate the cargo area of a C-130J. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Two men stand in the upper left of the image, while talking.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Eric Morris, 16th Airlift Squadron student loadmaster from Charleston AFB, discusses cargo delivery system bundle rigging with U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Josh Herrier, 314th Operations Group instructor loadmaster, in the monster garage at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Jan. 11, 2019. Morris will go over almost every aspect of cargo space of a C-130J in the monster garage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

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.

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