Tomorrow's Air Force... TODAY!
By Senior Airman Ruben Rios, 514th Air Mobility Wing
/ Published March 02, 2021
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. -- TOMORROW’S AIR FORCE! For decades, the KC-10 Extender has been a trusted refueling aircraft for many squadrons across the country. With the passing of time, however, comes the advancement of technology. While it is certainly sad to see the KC-10 go, many wings, including the 514th Air Mobility Wing, out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., are excited to welcome the KC-46 Pegasus, which is scheduled to replace its predecessor over the next couple of years.
In preparation for the arrival of the KC-46 at the 76th and 78th Air Refueling Squadrons, here, the 514th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flew a training mission on the aircraft with the 916th Air Refueling Wing, out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., to Isla Verde, Puerto Rico, on Feb. 26.
As most members of the 514th AES are not yet qualified to conduct aeromedical evacuation on the KC-46, AE instructors from both the Air Force Reserve Command, and Headquarters Air Mobility Command were present to train and evaluate the members.
Lt. Col. Dennis A. Castro, flight commander and instructor with the 514th AES, emphasized the importance of this training, which fulfilled two goals.
“U.S. Air Force flight nurses and aeromedical evacuation technicians must be ready to provide worldwide medical response when called upon,” said Castro. “The importance of our crew members from the 514th AES being trained on the KC-46 aircraft not only adds to our capability for transporting patients on another platform. As one of the first AFRC units with a large pool of flight instructors and flight examiners trained on the KC-46, some of our members are to become the initial instructor cadre for HQ AFRC/A3MA to train other AFRC aeromedical evacuation squadrons on this aircraft.”
Members from the 514th AES were able to pick up the learning process for maneuvering within the KC-46 rather quickly despite the differences of this aircraft from familiar ones.
“Being universally qualified on the C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and KC-135 Stratotanker aircrafts, we are able to convert the cargo compartments of these aircrafts to meet the needs to provide aero medical patient care during transport to a higher echelon of care or bringing them back to a military treatment facility to rehabilitate closer to their home of record,” said Castro. “The KC-46 Pegasus aircraft is designed for aerial refueling, strategic transport of cargo and troop movement as well as provisioned for aeromedical patient transport.”
While on board the KC-46, members from the 514th AES practiced various scenarios including transporting litters of patients onto stantions, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and restraining an emotionally disturbed patient.
Although most of the AES members were all instructor level, Senior Airman Bryelle A. Rackley, aerospace medical technician, was able to gain valuable upgrade training experience on the mission.
“It’s exciting to experience a new aircraft coming into AE world,” said Rackley. “It makes me look at my career with joy and eagerness knowing down the line I’ll be able to say ‘I remember when KC-46 first got to the 514th.’ It’s just overall an excellent experience I wouldn’t trade.”