ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Leard, the 97th AMW commander, Col. Jason Pavelschak, the 97th AMW vice commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Randy Kay II, the 97th AMW command chief welcomed members of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce Aerospace and Defense, and Aerospace Commerce and Economic Services to Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, on October 7, 2020.
ACES is a state program with resources dedicated to developing and growing the state’s aerospace industry. The purpose of the tour was to teach and share the mission of the 97th Air Mobility Wing to the ACES team to help build relationships in and out of the community.
The members of the tour included Geoff Camp, the Aerospace and Defense state director, Donald Wetekam, the ACES program director, Leshia Pearson, the ACES program manager, Ryan Tillison, the ACES program recruiter, and Eddie Compton, the Aerospace and Defense Industry liaison.
“The ACES team’s purpose is to foster growth and expansion of Oklahoma’s aerospace and defense industry,” said Pearson. “The five military bases and seven national guard units [in Oklahoma] are an integral part of that industry. Our team toured the base to meet the leadership team, hear the mission and goals, and identify any areas we can provide assistance or support.”
Following a brief on the wings mission of how "We Train Exceptional Mobility Airmen," the ACES team received the opportunity to fly on a C-17 Globemaster III and experience a low-level mission over wind-farms in southern Oklahoma and northern Texas.
“The low-level training flight gave us first-hand experience of the challenges of wind turbine interference within military training areas,” said Camp. “While we are aware of this challenge and are actively working to ensure future turbine fields do not crowd MTA’s, seeing this issue first hand is invaluable to our efforts.”
As a way to continue learning about the mission of Mobility’s Hometown, the group was also provided with a tour of a KC-46 Pegasus and an in-depth look at the 97th Maintenance Group.
“To be effective in serving the state, the ACES team needs to have a clear understanding of the capabilities, challenges and needs of all of Oklahoma’s aerospace entities,” said Wetekam. “Altus AFB is not only crucial to our nation’s defense, but it’s a strategic piece of Oklahoma’s aerospace network. We wanted to find out as much as we could about what Altus brings to the table and how we might be able to assist. In that regard, I’d say the visit was 100 percent successful.”