Air drop training on target for heavier loads

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead
  • 103rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
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.