First-time joint training benefits Army, Air Force

  • Published
  • 116th Air Control Wing Public Affairs
It was a win-win for two Air Force and Army National Guard units Sunday at Macon's Lake Tobesofkee. In a first-time joint endeavor, an aircrew from the 116th Air Control Wing completed its annual water survival training requirement while at the same time the Army Guardsmen fulfilled their own extractions training requirement.

"This was truly a joint effort and a benefit to everyone involved," said Maj. Ron, 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron navigator.

As part of the training, five aviators from the 128th ACCS were hoisted by an HH-60/M Black Hawk MEDEVAC helicopter to a height of 50 feet. The helicopter from C Company, 1-111th Aviation, 78th Aviation Troop Command at the Clay National Guard Center in Atlanta, stopped at Lake Tobesfokee to provide the training while enroute to Fort Stewart.

During real-world operations, Joint STARS aircrew would normally be rescued by a Black Hawk helicopter, but Air Force or Coast Guard could also provide similar support, explained the major.

"Drill (weekend) training in general is very busy, so it can be difficult to get hands-on training, particularly with the same aircraft you could use during an actual emergency," added Staff Sgt. Kimberly, 128th ACCS communications systems technician.

During each iteration, the helicopter crew - consisting of a pilot, co-pilot and crew chief - collectively provided a safety briefing, practiced crew interaction, operated the hoist, and flew to the side of lake.

"We used a two-person team during each lift so the person in the water could feel the impact of the wind, providing a more realistic experience than if one person was hoisted at a time," said CW2 Lance Wasdin, instructor pilot.

"After Sunday's training, we will look at developing a formal course for both water and ground survival, aiming to incorporate the Army Guard more frequently than what we have in the past." said the major.
(Note: Aircrew last names were withheld for operational security.)