Desert Training for the 133rd Airlift Wing
By Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson, 133rd Airlift Wing
/ Published April 01, 2011
Yuma, Ariz. -- The 133rd Airlift Wing sought the clear skies and warm weather of Yuma, Ariz. in late February and early March, preparing for potential deployments. The C-130 "Hercules" cargo aircraft and Airmen flew in desert conditions, accomplishing required annual training missions while experiencing weather and terrain like Southwest Asia.
Eighty-five Airmen of the 133rd Airlift Wing's Operations Group, Maintenance Group and Small Air Terminal deployed for annual training to Yuma Proving Ground on Feb. 27, 2011, trading the snow and ice of Minnesota for five days in the sun in Arizona.
"We came here to support our next Air Expeditionary Force deployment," said Maj. Jeff Wong, mission commander of Yuma 2011. He said the conditions in Yuma with very little precipitation and low desert with mountains are ideal for the C-130s of the 109th Airlift Squadron. The squadron and support elements packed everything needed for the mission into four aircraft, including trucks to support drop zone operations and gator vehicles to support flight line operations. The operations were run out of trailers much like the field conditions during a combat deployment.
Yuma is home to the Military Free Fall School which appreciates air support from visiting units. The Minnesota crews provided about five lifts a day. "The beauty of Yuma is the military free fall school, which makes completing personnel drops that are required training for both loadmasters and navigators," according to Lt. Col. Andy Burda, 133rd Operations Support Flight commander . Getting this amount of training done in 5 days saves the 133rd Airlift Wing money and shortens the amount of time members are away from their civilian jobs.
"I can't thank Minnesota enough for coming out and helping with our instructor course. I had never had that many C-130s supporting us simultaneously!" said Alfonso Rocha of the Military Free Fall School operations.
"From a training perspective, taking 36 air crew members and flying 3 times a day for 3 days completes a major portion of their semi-annual training requirements. Air Crew members were able to complete Cargo Delivery Systems drops, Low Cost Low Altitude drops, personnel drops, and low level flying training." said Wong.
When the mission was complete and all airmen and aircraft had returned to Minnesota, Wong commented about the success of the mission: "Everyone did their job and made my job easy. We had 100% launch rate and not a single injury or illness."