|C-130 Hercules fly during a training mission above Yokota Air Base, Japan, Aug. 19, 2013. Seven C-130s flew in formation practicing airlift tactics and procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo)|
by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Marasky, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Twenty-eight powerful T56 turboprop engines sit on the flightline, idling as they prepare to generate over 125,000 horsepower to lift seven C-130 Hercules into the air in a coordinated take off.
That was the sight as Yokota Air Base conducted a large formation training operation Aug. 19, 2013. Seven C-130's took off in the surge formation to practice the 374th Airlift Wing's capability to maintain and launch multiple aircraft at once.
Members of the 374th Maintenance Group and the 374th Operations Group worked together over the weekend to ensure all of the aircraft were ready to fly.
"We are working with the crew chiefs and assisting them with everything they need," said Airman 1st Class Nathan Judd, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental apprentice. "We make sure everything looks right and works correctly, ensuring all of our systems are top notch."
Judd said working with the other units on the large number of aircraft and in the timeframe provided was a unique and challenging opportunity for young Airmen.
"This has been a great experience for a young Airman," he said. "Normal day to day operations feel like training, but when you get to something like this, it feels real. We have a high pace tempo and turn more aircraft, so it's been a great experience and a lot of fun."
Along with the maintainers and operators, many other units around Yokota had the opportunity to practice and showcase their capabilities during the surge event, including the 374th Operations Support Squadron.
"These events really increase our ops tempo, and we look forward to them every time," said Tech. Sgt. Richard Price, 374th OSS tower watch supervisor. "These surges prevent us from becoming complacent, and they showcase our ability to launch and control multiple aircraft outside of the normal."
While the tower has only a small piece of the overall mission during the surge, they highlighted how every piece has to come together to make the event work according to Price.
"Our part might be small in the big picture, but if the aircraft are late taking off, it will throw off the entire schedule," he said. "So we're a small, but important part of the mission."
One member who got a chance to see how it takes a team to accomplish the mission was Senior Airman Jason Cotton, a 374th Maintenance Operations Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman, who had the opportunity to fly in one of the C-130's in the formation.
"The flight made me realize that every part of this operation is important," he said. "My shop can build engines all day long, but we aren't the ones who put them on the aircraft, and we don't inspect the plane before the flight. I realize now that it takes more than the props shop to make it go, so I see what it's all about now."
Cotton said the experience also helped him understand the importance of what he does and his role within the mission.
"It showed me how all of the hard work pays off," he said. "The whole thing makes you realize a little bit more how important this job is."