WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
Behind the scenes of the 445th Airlift Wing is an office that is the glue between maintenance, operations and outside users. The 445th Current Operations office is a vital part of the 445th Operations Support Squadron.
Current ops manages all the flying missions that comes through the wing and manages the wing commander’s flying program by balancing Air Force Reserve Command and active duty needs.
“We plan three months out. I build a skeleton calendar based on training requirements for not only our aircrew but our aeromedical evacuation Airmen too. We then plug in other requests that we can support, including air shows, static trainers, AFRC missions we have bought and missions that come up from the “barrel” (Tanker Airlift Control Center) to support our active duty,” said Lt. Col. Malcolm Quincy, chief of current operations.
The AFRC missions are bought at the quarterly AFRC allocation conference. The conference gives current operations personnel from across AFRC the opportunity to “purchase” airlift for AFRC missions.
“We buy trips to fill the holes in our schedule. It’s an opportunity for us to support a mission supporting another AFRC unit stateside or overseas. The conference I’m going to next month will allow me to purchase trips for April, May and June,” Quincy said.
The 445th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron as well as other AES units benefit from the opportunity to fulfill their requirements on the wing’s C-17 Globemaster III and their training is plugged into the current ops calendar.
“We keep our AE Airmen trained on their requirements in the C-17. But some AE units do not have a C-17 so those are some of the missions we purchase – AE missions. For example, we’ll fly to Youngstown (Air Reserve Base) for their AE Airmen to train. Youngstown has C-130s and they’ll bring in a C-130 to Wright-Patt for our AE Airmen to train on to get their requirements for that air frame,” Quincy said.
89th Airlift Squadron loadmaster Master Sgt. Todd Gnat, currently assigned to current ops, said there’s more to scheduling a mission than just flying it. Each mission is different and may have certain requirements that maintenance steps in to ensure the plane is good to go.
“There’s a lot that goes into scheduling a mission than just thinking about the flying hours we get. We work hand-in-hand with our maintainers to ensure the jet is mission ready and that we have all that we need to support each mission. Besides working with maintenance, we coordinate tankers from other units to conduct air refueling for us; we work with the end user on landing permissions; we coordinate air show requests and static trainers; we conduct flyover requests. There’s also humanitarian requests that we support,” Gnat said.
Gnat said there are short notice requests that they scramble to accomplish, such as the hurricane relief efforts back in the fall.
“AMC (Air Mobility Command) ran the hurricane relief efforts. We received our tasking from the barrel and we supplied the jets and the aircrew. We had aircrew on standby, ready to go as soon as the notice came down and maintenance had the planes ready for us,” Gnat said.
During that time, the wing airlifted cargo and passengers around the globe to places including Texas, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Delaware, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Martin and Honduras. Cargo delivered consisted of meals ready to eat, water, power equipment, forklifts, sleeping cots and other supplies in support of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Master Sgt. Steve Palsgrove, operations planner, has worked in current ops for 23 years. He’s coordinated various missions on different air frames during his career. He’s had many memorable experiences while in current ops but one mission stands out that he helped plan and that was a mission the wing flew to England.
“I had planned a mission with routes to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, Butte, Montana, then over to Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England then back home. We flew the 445th Civil Engineer Squadron to Eglin where we swapped jets with another crew from Wright Patterson and headed on to Patrick where we remained overnight. From there, we picked up Air Force para-rescue jumpers and flew them to Butte, Montana in which we quick turned and flew to RAF Mildenhall overnight. During our flight to England, we fly over Canada and saw the Northern Lights when it turned completely dark outside. The trip home from RAF Mildenhall we picked up approximately 66 of our 445th Logistics Readiness Squadron Airmen on annual tour coming back to home. This was a great experience to see how all the mission planning came together to move the mission,” Palsgrove said.