Fairchild rocks Global Thunder
By By Senior Airman Ryan Lackey, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 24, 2017
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Several Fairchild KC-135 Stratotankers stand ready near the alert facility in the gloom of a frosty November morning; the airfield is tense, yet quiet. A klaxon abruptly sounds; proceeding, dozens of aircrew and maintainers charged out onto the flightline within seconds, beelining to the waiting aircraft.
The Airmen ignore the cold as they rush to their tasks, working against the clock to prepare the tankers for flight. It may be an exercise, but these professionals understand how vital the training is.
"Exercises are designed to train our forces and assess joint operational readiness,” said Col. Ryan Samuelson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “Global Thunder involved extensive planning and coordination to best provide unique training opportunities for Fairchild Airmen."
Many separate teams of Airmen are needed to ensure these vital aircraft are kept in peak condition and to address potential environmental factors to keep them prepared for take-off, as they may be required to fly at a moment’s notice.
Readiness at Team Fairchild begins with Security Forces Airmen, who are the primary means of defense for the installation, ensuring the uninterrupted continuation of the base’s mission.
“Security Forces is charged to protect, defend and fight,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Fandel, 92nd Security Forces Squadron instructor. “Anywhere there is a U.S. asset, you can find a Defender there securing vital personnel and materials.”
Some of the most vital personnel Security Forces protects are Maintenance Airmen as no aircraft would stay air-worthy without their continuous efforts. Maintainers do more than care for the mechanical needs of Fairchild’s fleet of KC-135’s; they respond alongside aircrews and bring vital skills, equipment and resources to ensure operational readiness in any situation.
Maintainers worked with pilots and boom operators stationed at the base’s alert facility, remaining onsite 24 hours a day to facilitate rapid response, checking and rechecking tasks to ensure the aircraft remained ready to go.
“We stood ready to spray down the aircraft if they needed it so they could take off quickly,” said Senior Airman Cody Martin, Aerospace Maintenance Squadron de-icing lead. ““In winter conditions, no aircraft would get off the ground without us.”
“Our team’s timing went well and we were able to complete preparations for take-off seamlessly,” said Capt. Joshua Newman, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker pilot. “Our flying crew chiefs were a great help, coordinating with the ground crews and speeding up our process to become ready to fly. It makes it difficult if the maintainer’s don’t have their game on, but these Airmen made it seem easy.”
Fairchild Airmen are back-to-back, two-time Omaha Trophy Award winners, a recognition resulting from continuous testing readiness while confronting uncertain situations and ensuring the wing remains a safe, secure, effective and ready strategic deterrent force.
"U.S. forces are able to effectively deter any threat to us or our allies thanks to Fairchild's refueling capabilities,” Samuelson said. “We are the best at what we do, getting them anywhere, anytime needed.”