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Air drop training on target for heavier loads

Two container delivery systems are jettisoned out the back of a C-130H Hercules aircraft assigned to the 103rd Airlift Wing during an aerial drop training mission at the "bean bag" drop zone, Westover Air Reserve Base, Chicopee, Massachusetts, on July 12, 2014. The systems being released consist of four barrels filled with water weighing about 700 pounds and a high-velocity parachute tethered to the system allowing for safe descent to the ground. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead/Released)

Two container delivery systems are jettisoned out the back of a C-130H Hercules aircraft assigned to the 103rd Airlift Wing during an aerial drop training mission at the "bean bag" drop zone, Westover Air Reserve Base, Chicopee, Massachusetts, on July 12, 2014. The systems being released consist of four barrels filled with water weighing about 700 pounds and a high-velocity parachute tethered to the system allowing for safe descent to the ground. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead/Released)

Maj. Chris Thiesing (right), tactics officer with the 118th Airlift Squadron, teaches Maj. Garrett Caponetti (center) how to check the winds at the drop zone using an anemometer during an aerial delivery exercise over Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, July 12, 2014. Behind them, the malfunction officer, Master Sgt. Corey Kass, a loadmaster with the 118th Airlift Squadron, looks on. These measurements are up-channeled to the crew on a C-130H Hercules aircraft in the skies above so they can make better calculations and drop the cargo on target. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead/Released)

Maj. Chris Thiesing (right), tactics officer with the 118th Airlift Squadron, teaches Maj. Garrett Caponetti (center) how to check the winds at the drop zone using an anemometer during an aerial delivery exercise over Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, July 12, 2014. Behind them, the malfunction officer, Master Sgt. Corey Kass, a loadmaster with the 118th Airlift Squadron, looks on. These measurements are up-channeled to the crew on a C-130H Hercules aircraft in the skies above so they can make better calculations and drop the cargo on target. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead/Released)

Staff Sgt. Danny Haynes and Senior Airman Kaitlin Cardello, both loadmasters with the 118th Airlift Squadron, push a container delivery system along the floor rails of a C-130H Hercules aircraft to get the load in position and secure for air delivery on July 12, 2014, at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Connecticut. The aircraft was loaded with two sets of container delivery systems in preparation for multiple air deliveries while flying over Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead/Released)

Staff Sgt. Danny Haynes and Senior Airman Kaitlin Cardello, both loadmasters with the 118th Airlift Squadron, push a container delivery system along the floor rails of a C-130H Hercules aircraft to get the load in position and secure for air delivery on July 12, 2014, at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Connecticut. The aircraft was loaded with two sets of container delivery systems in preparation for multiple air deliveries while flying over Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead/Released)

Senior Airman Kaitlin Cardello and Master Sgt. Joseph Amato shift a container delivery system into position on the floor rails of a C-130H Hercules aircraft during an air drop exercise at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Connecticut on July 12, 2014. The exercise started with Airmen like Senior Airman Joseph Hamel (far left) loading the CDS onto a transport vehicle and transferring it onto the C-130H. From there, the loadmasters secure and position the load for air delivery. (Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead/Released)

Senior Airman Kaitlin Cardello and Master Sgt. Joseph Amato shift a container delivery system into position on the floor rails of a C-130H Hercules aircraft during an air drop exercise at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Connecticut on July 12, 2014. The exercise started with Airmen like Senior Airman Joseph Hamel (far left) loading the CDS onto a transport vehicle and transferring it onto the C-130H. From there, the loadmasters secure and position the load for air delivery. (Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead/Released)

In the distance, Senior Airman Kimberly Pronovost twists a high-velocity parachute to contain the cords and prevent tangling as Staff Sgt. Matthew Merrow anchors the parachute. The two air transportation specialists with the 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron are field packing the parachute after a successful air delivery training exercise that took place over Westover Air Reserve Base,  Chicopee, Massachusetts on July 12, 2014. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead/Released)

In the distance, Senior Airman Kimberly Pronovost twists a high-velocity parachute to contain the cords and prevent tangling as Staff Sgt. Matthew Merrow anchors the parachute. The two air transportation specialists with the 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron are field packing the parachute after a successful air delivery training exercise that took place over Westover Air Reserve Base, Chicopee, Massachusetts on July 12, 2014. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead/Released)

Airmen from the 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron maneuver the container delivery system onto a truck after a successful air drop training exercise at Westover Air Reserve Base, Chicopee, Massachusetts on July 12, 2014. After collecting the systems, they will be brought back to Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Connecticut, disassembled and repacked for the next mission. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead/Released)

Airmen from the 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron maneuver the container delivery system onto a truck after a successful air drop training exercise at Westover Air Reserve Base, Chicopee, Massachusetts on July 12, 2014. After collecting the systems, they will be brought back to Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Connecticut, disassembled and repacked for the next mission. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead/Released)

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- A C-130H Hercules aircraft assigned to the 103rd Airlift Wing jettisoned two sets of container delivery systems as part of a training exercise over Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts on Saturday, July 12, 2014.

The mission was to drop four container delivery systems using high-velocity parachutes, said Tech. Sgt. Robert Ewings, an air transportation specialist with the 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron.

"It is a low-altitude drop to get supplies into an area for troops when landing a plane is impossible," said Ewings.

The drop was another step in the overall training required to get the Flying Yankees at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Connecticut closer to their goal of air dropping "heavies" and military personnel. A goal shared by the unit as a whole.

These "heavies," according to Senior Airman Kevin Leist, an air transportation specialist with the 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, are pallets built-up with approximately 3,000 pounds of material like wood, concrete or water that is meant to simulate real-world equipment.

"We all have had a really good opportunity in the past couple of months to build upon what was just a vision nine months ago," said Maj. Chris Thiesing, tactics officer with the 118th Airlift Squadron. "Now, we're actually dropping CDS, which is the container delivery system, and in the future we are going to be dropping heavy equipment as well as real-world personnel."

Col. Fred Miclon, vice commander for the 103rd Airlift Wing, who went out to the drop zone to to get a first-hand look said, "It's impressive that we have come so far in our conversion in such a short period of time. We have not had our aircraft a year yet and we are already training for air drop missions with live drops like this one. We have all the pieces in place to continue our conversion well ahead of the timeline. The teamwork and integration between maintenance, operations and mission support to make this happen is impressive to say the least. Once again everyone in the wing is focused on one goal and mission, and to complete our conversion ahead of schedule, getting everyone trained so that we can get back in the fight is what it is all about."

A tremendous amount of coordination and work is invested into these drops. Leist said one "heavy" will free fall for about 12 seconds and requires about three hours of preparation including packing the parachute. This does not include the flight time, or the amount of coordination and communication that go into the mission by other units.

"We've come a long way and it's a testament to the aerial port folks who are building the equipment we're dropping, a testament to maintenance for keeping the planes flyable and a testament to all of the new navigators, flight engineers, loadmasters and pilots that have all come together from different parts of the Air Force," said Thiesing.

Overall, the C-130H made three deliveries over the drop zone. The crew dropped two containers during the first two deliveries and on the third, they dropped what they called a training bundle; an eight pound sand bag with a parachute attached to it.

Dropping sand bags, container delivery systems, and eventually "heavies" and personnel is the mission for the 103rd Airlift Wing going into the future and means the unit will be a frequent flyer over "bean bag" drop zone, what Westover's drop zone has been historically called.

"We're doing a lot of good work and it will be great looking back six months to a year from now to see how far we've come," said Thiesing.