LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- The 314th Airlift Wing recently hosted a Turkey Shoot competition Sept. 25, 2020 at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, challenging and scoring Flying Training Unit instructors on a myriad of events.
The purpose of the Turkey Shoot was to challenge Airmen in the newly restructured active-duty maintenance squadron, exercise the instructor corps by completing objectives they don’t normally have the opportunity to complete with students, and ultimately build esprit de corps.
“Herk Nation starts with us -- keeping our instructor force at the top of their game is paramount to training and graduating the world’s best combat airlifters,” said Col. Joseph Miller, 314th AW commander. “Our Turkey Shoot is a graduate-level competition that challenges even our most experienced crews.”
The Turkey Shoot is all-encompassing, requiring the entire team to be successful. From the maintainers fixing and prepping the aircraft; the launch crews marshalling and safely launching six Herks on time; loadmaster-focused ground operations; flying low-levels without GPS; and conducting dynamic water drop zones and assault landing competitions—these events not only make the instructors better at their craft, but they make an already strong team even stronger.
“A motivated and sharpened instructor cadre produces better graduates and inspires our students to be the world’s best,” Miller said.
Among the eager participants were members from the 314th AW, 314th Operations Group, 714th Training Squadron and 62nd Airlift Squadron.
“On the operations side, we conducted training in a simulated contested environment, which is not something we typically train students on,” said Capt. Jonathan Avera, 314th OG tactics officer. “So it was great for the instructors to knock off the rust and hone in on contested operations.”
Maintenance personnel graded instructors on areas such as aircraft cleanliness, accuracy of aircraft forms and marshalling procedures. The aircrew were collectively graded on precise delivery of cargo via airland and airdrop.
“Competition is the best way to build pride within ourselves and our squadrons,” Avera said. “This challenged our instructor corps to dust off the books and get back to studying what the operational units are currently doing. Ultimately we need to be reminded of the types of missions students will be flying when they graduate the C-130 FTU, and executing those missions is a great way to make sure we are staying up to date on the tactics employed around the world.”
With a primary focus on training C-130 aircrews, the 314th AW aims to bolster the C-130 enterprise while sustaining agile combat airlift around the globe.
“We say it often because it’s the truth—‘Herk Nation Starts Here,’” Miller said. “We build the foundation and we feed the fight. There isn’t a single active duty C-130J pilot or loadmaster who didn’t learn to fly the Herk at Little Rock AFB, right here at the 314th AW. It is humbling to have the privilege of not only teaching, but also hopefully inspiring those who will replace us.”