153rd Airlift Wing aircrews train in combat and water survival

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Pilots, navigators, flight engineers and loadmasters from the 153rd Airlift Wing participated in combat and water survival refresher training at Curt Gowdy State Park, about 20 miles west of Cheyenne, Sept. 11.

The training provided more in-depth instruction that aircrew members receive during their initial Air Force Specialty Code training, and is required every three years.

Aircrew flight equipment technicians conducted the training and reviewed major concepts of how to survive in combat situations. Additionally, aircrews received refresher training on how to survive elements, such as large bodies of water in the event that an aircraft goes down.

"The purpose of this training is to touch on the basics of combat survival and specifically the responsibilities aircrews have in survival situations," said Staff Sgt. Richard Taylor, aircrew life equipment craftsman.

Key topics covered were navigation, survival tactics, aircraft-exit procedures and flight equipment tools available to crews.

"Our goal is to give aircrews the confidence to survive in any location and for them to know the tools they have," Taylor said.

While much of the day was spent reviewing these concepts, there was also an interactive portion. During this hands-on training session, aircrews were given the task of locating a predetermined away-point using a compass. This gave participants the opportunity to use tools they do not necessarily use on a regular basis.

"There is only so much you can do in a classroom," said Taylor. "Our goal is make the training as realistic as possible because [this way] aircrews remember more."

During the hands-on water portion at Granite Springs Reservoir, aircrew members performed tasks while wearing life preserver units. This included getting into a one-man raft, getting out from underneath a parachute in water, and swimming to a 20-man raft to setup a canopy.

"This training served as an excellent refresher since we only get to do this every three years," said Maj. Brett Goebel, 153rd Operations Group, chief of standardizations and evaluation.

In all, the training went as planned and the aircrew flight equipment team successfully provided this refresher training to about ten aircrew members.

"As an aircrew member there is always the possibility of losing an engine, or any kind of malfunction happening, and this training prepares us for that," said Goebel. "Hopefully it never happens, but if it were to we know the procedures."