LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Aircrews from the 314th Airlift Wing recently transferred approximately 20 Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape students from Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, to Fort Benning, Georgia, Jan. 13.
The crew from LRAFB answered the request from 19th Air Force to support COVID-19 mitigation measures taken by Air Education and Training Command, as part of the command’s overarching effort to protect personnel in the training pipeline through the utilization of military aircraft.
“This mission preserves the flow of personnel throughout the AETC training pipeline to ensure operational units remain mission-effective,” said Maj. Joseph Becker, 62d Airlift Squadron director of operations. “By employing military airlift, the Air Force maintains effective training while minimizing COVID-19 mission impacts through safe transportation.”
In order to maximize COVID-19 mitigations and transport the students as quickly as possible, one crew flew to Fairchild AFB to pick up the students, and returned to LRAFB where they conducted a crew swap before completing the trip to Fort Benning.
“By utilizing our own aircraft, we mitigate the inherent risk of exposure to COVID from across the country that could be present in commercial airports,” Becker added.
With a fundamental focus on training, this mission provides a dual-purposed opportunity. It allowed new Airmen early exposure to operational capabilities as well as maximized aircrew training hours by piloting essential transportation missions.
“Within the 314th Operations Group, our instructors primarily conduct student training in the local area,” Becker said. “Airlift missions, including the SERE training lift, provide a valuable opportunity for our instructor corps to maintain skills associated with flying off-station while moving personnel and equipment. Keeping these skills honed improves student instruction while ensuring the cadre are proficient when they return to Air Mobility Command.”