Fairchild's SERE school supports NASA mission
By Airman 1st Class Jesenia Landaverde, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 21, 2018
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Three, two, one… lift off.
This is where most people think a NASA mission begins, when it actually starts years in advance.
A team of NASA astronauts, contractors and engineers came to Fairchild Air Force Base to complete the water survival course hosted by the 22nd Training Squadron’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists.
All NASA astronauts and aircrew must maintain readiness and currency in all required training competencies to complete any potential mission.
“When you return from a space mission, the plan is to land in the water,” said Navy Cmdr. Victor J. Glover, NASA astronaut. “You’re going to use a lot of these basic water survival principles for that potential first mission.”
To better prepare aircrew in an unexpected aircraft incident, the design of the base pool, that SERE trains in, is the cutting edge of innovation for creating simulated real world environments.
“The unique part of the facility is that they are able to simulate different environments,” Glover said. “They can simulate the winds, whether they’re from a helicopter’s down wash or from a storm, and the waves shifting the water in the pool. This adds realism to it.”
One simulation that the NASA team completed was the dunker course. Trainees are strapped inside a modular egress training system that simulates a mock helicopter with lap belts. They submerge into water and rotate to teach aircrew how to find their exits to safety.
“This isn’t difficult for these professionals,” said Senior Airman Jacob Collins, 22nd Training Squadron SERE specialist. “This isn’t difficult at all, physically, but normally when people get in they start to get uncomfortable. Being underwater, upside down and having to hold your breath is what disorients people; it causes fear, panic, even anxiety.”
While the water survival course contains vital knowledge to any aircrew, the reality of using this training can mean life or death.
“This is great training, but I hope no one ever has to use it,” Collins said. “We do our best to give them the tools and the knowledge to survive until they can get rescued.”
When it comes to Rapid Global Mobility, Team Fairchild makes it possible to maintain air superiority at all corners of the globe. The SERE team has reached beyond the globe with the tools in hand by supporting astronauts in maintaining preparedness for any future space missions.