News: Mobility airman profile: C-130 pilot among many airlift aircrew supporting Japan relief efforts
Story by Master Sgt. Scott Sturkol
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - Since March 11, mobility airmen assigned to Pacific Air Forces have been busy supporting Operation Tomodachi -- particularly those airmen with the 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
Among those Yokota airmen is Maj. Kurt Fife of the 36th Airlift Squadron -- is a C-130 Hercules pilot. According to a 374th AW fact sheet, the 36th AS is the "only forward-based tactical airlift squadron in the Pacific." The squadron "maintains a forward presence and supports combat operations by providing responsive movement of personnel and equipment through aerial delivery and assault airland operations."
The squadron also "maintains C-130 mission-ready aircrew to conduct theater airlift, special operations, aeromedical evacuation, search and rescue, repatriation and humanitarian relief missions," the fact sheet states.
For Operation Tomodachi, Fife has flown numerous missions with fellow aircrew airmen to help the Japanese people. According to Air Force statistics through March 25, airmen have flown more than 225 missions and transported more than 4.2 million pounds of cargo and 2,800 passengers in support of humanitarian operations for Japan.
On March 22, for example, Fife was part of that deliverance of cargo and personnel when he and his fellow aircrew flew a C-130 cargo bay full of kerosene to Matsushima Air Base, Japan, according to a Yokota news report. The kerosene, the report stated, was used to fuel heaters at relief shelters in northern Japan" where temperatures have repeatedly dropped below freezing."
In supporting Operation Tomodachi, or any other airlift mission, Fife is doing what he has been trained to do. According to his official Air Force job description for an airlift pilot, he is required to "pilot airlift aircraft and command crews to accomplish airlift, training and other missions."
To fulfill his work as an airlift pilot, Fife reviews mission tasking, intelligence and weather information, the job description states. He supervises mission planning, preparation, filing a flight plan and crew briefings and he ensures the aircraft is pre-flighted, inspected, loaded, equipped and manned for each mission.
Airmen like Fife also pilot aircraft and command crews. They are trained to operate aircraft controls and equipment and perform, supervise, or direct navigation, in-flight refueling, and cargo and passenger delivery. They also ensure the operational readiness of the crew by conducting or supervising mission specific training and they develop plans and policies, monitor operations and assist commanders with functions related to airlift operations, the job description shows.
Pilots like Fife also have to maintain mandatory job knowledge in the theory of flight, air navigation, meteorology, flying directives, aircraft operating procedures and mission tactics. Additionally, they use the C-130 to its capacity which includes filling its 40-foot-long cargo bay the is more than 3.5 feet wide and 9 feet high.
News reports from Yokota Air Base show the support for Operation Tomodachi will continue for months to come. Since the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan on March 11, mobility Airmen and the world "have come together" to support the people of Japan and Fife is among them.
"This has been an unprecedented disaster, but it has provoked an unprecedented show of resilience by the Japanese people and a pledge of cooperation and friendship from the American people," U.S. Secretary of State said in a March 22 State Department release. "We will be with Japan and the people of Japan as you recover and rebuild, and we will stand with you in the months and years ahead."
(374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs contributed to this report.)
This work, Mobility airman profile: C-130 pilot among many airlift aircrew supporting Japan relief efforts, by MSgt Scott Sturkol, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.