MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --
Many of the unsung heroes that move our mission each day do not wear the uniform. A prime example of those who make airlift operations possible are the instructors and maintenance professionals who operate the C-17 simulator here at the 167th Airlift Wing. These men and women work day in and day out to ensure aircrew readiness.
Recently, the Simulator team supported the requalification program for Maj. Ben Mathias and myself.
After completing a tour with the Inspector General’s office, Mathias took on his new role leading a critical cog of the mission support group. Although he serves as the commander of the 167th Force Support Squadron there are many benefits to his requalification.
“Having another qualified pilot ensures our unit is able to respond to the needs of the state and nation during times of crisis when critical airlift is needed,” Mathias said. “As the FSS Commander, the ability to fly gives me more opportunities to get out and interact with the operations and maintenance groups. This interaction is critical to the feedback loop in bringing friendly selfless service to the wing,”
Mathias required several simulator training events before returning to the flight-line.
My requalification training was even more extensive. Having been away from the aircraft for nearly four years, an initial pilot training syllabus from the C-17 schoolhouse was modified to fit my experience level. This included nearly two months of intensive simulator training and instructional briefings. Completing the training at Martinsburg saved the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars associated with temporary duty costs to Altus and allowed me to continue my leadership duties at home station.
The extensiveness of the requalification programs was outside the normal mission set for the FlightSafety Services Corporation team. Led by instructors John Zazworski and Lisa Windle, the programs included nearly 30 simulators and training events, many conducted for the first time at Martinsburg.
Our 167th Pilot and Loadmaster simulator instructor corps brings over a century of experience to share with our aircrews. Their instruction is superb and the simulator maintenance team ensures the training schedule is ready and reliable.
Each year the simulator team at Martinsburg conducts approximately 900 training sorties. The maintenance technicians, led by Buzz Bankemper of C2Technology, ensure the simulator is fully mission capable and able to support training operations, conducting over 6,000 hours of preventative and real-time maintenance.
The simulator team at Martinsburg is the best in the business. The instructors and maintenance staff dedicate each day to ensuring that aircrews are prepared to fly into combat. Without their passion for training and maintaining, global mobility operations from the 167th would grind to a halt.
We are very lucky to have such an amazing team here at Martinsburg.