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Getting High on the K-Loader

Airman 1st Class Jeremy Forgue  turns over the tracks on a K-Loader in Gulfport, Miss., June 5. The Port Dawgs took advantage of the opportunity during an ORE. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emmanuel Santiago)

Airman 1st Class Jeremy Forgue turns over the tracks on a K-Loader in Gulfport, Miss., June 5. The Port Dawgs took advantage of the opportunity during an ORE. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emmanuel Santiago)

GULFPORT, Miss. -- Airmen from the 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron's small air terminal, a.k.a. the "Port Dawgs," took advantage of the beautifully sweltering weather in Gulfport, Miss. Last month by training on equipment not available to them at Bradley Air National Guard Base. The next generation small loader (NGSL) or the K-loader as the Airmen call it, is a piece of equipment used to load and unload all pallets onto and off cargo planes. Reaching a height of 225 inches, roughly 18 and three-quarter feet, the K-loader can be very tricky to operate. However, according to Airman 1st Class Joseph Hamel, a member of the logistics readiness squadron, as long as you follow your safety guidelines and you get certified to operate it, it's perfectly safe.

"The NGSL is the primary piece of equipment the small air terminal uses to safely and effectively load and download cargo. With countless mishap opportunities, using equipment of this size and moving cargo weighing up to 10,000 pounds, training is a must," said Master Sgt. Chris Fanelli, noncommissioned officer in charge of the small air terminal.

According to Hamel, the Port Dawgs went up to Westover Air Force Base for a four-day training class to get certified on the K-Loader. In addition to training opportunities in New England, the small air terminal took full advantage of the training offered while at Gulfport.

This operational readiness exercise was especially helpful for National Guard forces to seek out the training needed for equipment like this.

"I feel like the hours we are putting in out here on the flightline apply toward our job and career field just like everyone else. I think it's the best thing for us right now," said Hamel.
"At home station, the small air terminal has none of the required equipment to perform day-to-day ramp operations," said Fanelli. "The Gulfport CRTC [combat readiness training center] has one of the primary pieces of material handling equipment--the NGSL opportunity is tremendous."