911th personnel support Saber Junction 16

  • Published
  • By Airman Bethany Feenstra
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Fourteen operations and nine maintenance personnel as well as one C-130 H from the 911th Airlift Wing participated in Exercise Saber Junction 2016 April 11-15 at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

The exercise was designed to test the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s ability to conduct unified land operations. This was the 911th’s first time participating in the annual international exercise, said Captain Charlie Baker, pilot with the 758th Airlift Squadron here.

 “The guard and reserve command played a pretty big part of it,” said Baker.

Baker said there were ten total C-130s at the exercise, six of which were from Air Force Reserve units. One aircraft belonged to the 911th, with two of our crews rotating throughout the exercise, he said.

The exercise not only let the 173rd test its ability to conduct unified land operations, but also gave 911th crews the opportunity to practice making drops of people and heavy equipment, as well as flying in large formations.

“It validates the training we do here every day,” said Baker. “We train to a large formation only using two aircraft, for the most part. So rarely do we fly with three or four aircraft.”

Baker said the Air Force component of the exercise did a phenomenal job, successfully launching 18 aircraft for two days straight. In particular, he mentioned that the Pittsburgh aircraft and crew didn’t have any mechanical issues during the exercise.

“We had nine of our maintenance members over there, and they’re very humble about it,” said Baker. “They say ‘Oh, we just got lucky with our planes.’ You don’t get lucky with planes that were built in 1978. Everybody over there did a really good job and they deserve some accolades.”

The exercise was an eye-opening experience for some younger members and a great overall opportunity for everyone involved, said Baker.

“We have the airshow in 2017, but that would be great to send a couple crews over there again,” said Baker.