By Senior Master Sgt. Ray Lloyd, 107th AW
/ Published January 13, 2010
Niagara Falls -- The 107th Airlift Wing earned another notch on its belt by providing airlift for jump training for the 3 rd Ranger Battalion. On Jan. 4, aircrew from the 107th AW left cold snowy Niagara Falls for an unseasonably cold Lawson Airfield, Fort Benning, GA. Rangers are mandated to jump four times throughout the year to remain current on their certifications.
"We have a hard time getting airlift support to fulfill our training requirements," said Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Salley, 3rd Ranger Battalion.
The 107th has a history of stepping up to the plate, taking on missions and training operations. This not only improves their skills, but is also beneficial to other units.
"This is a two way street," said Maj. Greg Miller, Pilot, 107th AW. "Both the aircrew and the Rangers receive invaluable training," he added.
Following a briefing by Staff Sgt. Andy Cole, Master Jumper, 3rd Ranger Battalion, the aircrew readied the plane while the Rangers readied their gear.
"This is a lot different from carrying cargo," said Master Sgt. Robert Albrecht, loadmaster, 107th AW. "The aircraft has to be configured to accommodate this mission," he added.
Briefing complete and aircraft readied, it was off to the flight line for the loading of the jumpers. Sgt. Mike Bajer, Flight Engineer, 107th AW and Staff Sgt. Tony Re prepare, Crew Chief, 107th AW ensure the C-130 is fit for the mission. Their combined aircraft maintenance experience will keep this aircraft flying for hours. Lt. Col. Jon Drieling, C-130 Navigator, on loan from the Mansfield Ohio Air Guard , plans the training route and drop zone. The colonel considers airspeed, wind speed and altitude when calculating the precise opening of the jump window to get the rangers on target.
Pilot Maj. Greg Miller and Co-Pilot Maj. Pat Neill are in control of the aircraft and working their skills to get the Rangers there on time and on target. Both are new to the C-130, but have many years, flying hours, and experience on various aircraft. Listening to them with the onboard communication system, one gets the impression they all enjoy flying the C-130. This is aviation history for the 107th as an Airlift Wing with this being the unit's first ranger jump operation. The pilots work together along with the navigator and flight engineer managing the mighty Hercules getting the rangers to the drop zone. It's an hour and half flight and the rangers are packed in like sardines. There's no wiggle room in this aircraft.
Twenty minutes out from the DZ, the load masters get the word to prepare for drop. Master Sgt. Bob Albrecht and Senior Airman Laura Kruse are the ones to do the job. They ready the rangers for their jump. Ten minutes out, they open the side doors, cold wind rushing throughout the aircraft. Eager jumpers stand ready for the green light. This is Army training at its best for these sixty Rangers all geared up and ready to go. Green light and in seconds the rangers exit the aircraft carrying everything on them but the kitchen sink. The aircraft is over the DZ and the rangers are on their way. Purple, a combination of Army green and Air Force blue, is needed to make this happen.
"This is good training," said Senior Airman Laura Kruse, loadmaster, 107th AW. "We learn about this in tech school and now I'm doing it," she added.