EAST GRANBY, Conn. --
The brand-new Small Air Terminal’s front doors swung open as Airmen en route to a deployment for training formed the first processing line May 3, 2019 at Bradley Air National Guard Base, Conn. After 12 years and 10 facility changes, the 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron finally began work in their new, permanent home.
“It’s better than Christmas for us,” said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Fanelli, 103rd LRS aerial port superintendent. “It truly is one of the greatest moments I’ve had being here the last 12 years.”
The new $6.5 million terminal, which had its official opening via a ribbon cutting ceremony May 21, 2019, supports the 103rd LRS in meeting all passenger processing requirements, including manifesting, screening and security. The facility also allows for pallet build-up and parachute packing and drying capabilities adjacent to the flight line, boosting deployment processing efficiencies that ultimately enable the Connecticut Air National Guard to meet increasing global demands.
“We have the most state-of-the-art aerial port in the Guard right now,” Fanelli said. “That’s coming from a lot of people within the aerial port community and at the Guard Bureau level as well. We are the pinnacle of the aerial port world.”
The sterile departure gate in the passenger terminal can hold 58 passengers, capable of expanding to 75 passengers with added portable chairs. A room that can act as a second departure gate holds an additional 60 passengers.
“[The new terminal] has taken our capabilities and skyrocketed them,” Fanelli said.
The first 44 Airmen who processed through the new terminal, completed processing in just under 30 minutes. This was a record pace for the unit, according to Fanelli.
The proximity of the new Small Air Terminal to the flight line also benefits the aerial port mission as a whole, said Tech. Sgt. Dan Meskell, 103rd LRS air transportation specialist.
“To be able to be in our air terminal operations center and view the flight line as our people are loading or unloading a plane, we certainly feel more a part of the mission than we ever did before,” Meskell said. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
“Before, we were in the building farthest away from the flight line and our entire job involves the flight line,” said Master Sgt. Robert Ewings, 103rd LRS Small Air Terminal NCOIC. “Now it’s a lot easier. Everything that we need is out here.”
The facility will also improve training for new 103rd LRS Airmen, Meskell said.
“New Guardsmen won’t have any memories of moving from building to building while also trying to accomplish their upgrade training and learning how to do our job,” Meskell said. “They get to come right into a new building which perfectly suits every aspect of our career field and get right to work.”
The 103rd LRS plans to support additional air mobility missions coming through the area and expand the existing Space-A program.
“We will be able to accommodate any of those military travel needs now,” Fanelli said. “From the cargo side to the passenger side, there’s nothing we can’t handle.”