87th APS sharpens skills using Halvorsen Loader

  • Published
  • By Capt. Wilson Wise
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 87th Aerial Port Squadron’s Ramp Operations Section trained throughout the weekend, Sept. 18-19, 2020, on the Halvorsen Cargo Loader.

Also referred to as the Next Generation Small Loader (NGSL), the Halvorsen is a rapidly deployable, high-reach mechanized aircraft loader that can transport and lift up to 25,000 pounds of cargo and load it onto military and civilian aircraft.

“This type of hands-on specialized training is required to load the underbody of the aircraft. The Halvorsen provides the ability to quickly and safely load large amounts of cargo,” said Master Sgt. Jon Webber, 87th APS air transportation technician and load planner.

In addition to its ability to streamline cargo loading, the naming of the machine is a proud reflection of a central person in our Air Force’s heritage, Col. Gail Seymour “Hal” Halvorsen, whom the machine honors, will celebrate his 100th birthday in October of this year. As a lieutenant, he flew C-47 and C-54 cargo planes in the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949. The airlift provided critical supplies to citizens of West Germany who had supply lines interrupted.

Unbeknownst to his supervisors, Halvorsen began to drop candy from miniature parachutes to German children on the ground. Known as “The Berlin Candy Bomber”, “Uncle Wiggly Wings”, and “The Chocolate Flier” Halverson dropped more than 23 tons of candy to children during the airlift and became a national hero for his efforts.

Like the Air Force colonel, the Halverson Cargo Loader has served our Air Force and our allies faithfully overseas. Capable of carrying three pallets at one time, the loader helps expedite cargo transport in less than ideal conditions.

“A few years ago in Kandahar (Air Force Base, Afghanistan) we had difficult load conditions. This vehicle’s ability to adapt to unleveled surfaces and safely and quickly load cargo kept the mission humming,” said Webber.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Hood, assistant supervisor, Ramp Operations, led the training for a dozen Airmen who were becoming recertified or training for the first time on the loader.

“This group really soaked up all of the information I provided. I couldn’t be more proud of how well they did while training,” he said.

The Airmen are required to become trained at a rapid pace.

“It is really hard to believe that for most of them this is the first time they have ever driven this vehicle. I am extremely impressed,” Hood complimented.

Webber agrees.

“Practice on our equipment is essential to ensure timely loads. These Airmen are dedicated to success and take pride in their work. The rate at which our Airmen can learn and retain new information to make our mission run safely and efficiently testifies to the quality of people we have at the 445th,” he said.