ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE: Instructors at the Air Force C-17 Aircrew Training Center here are preparing foreign aircrews for a first-of-its-kind mission in Hungary.
A multi-national consortium consisting of 10 North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries and two Partnership for Peace nations created the Strategic Airlift Capability Program’s Heavy Airlift Wing at Papa Air Base, Hungary, and together they will provide strategic airlift to 12 nations throughout Europe.
“(The HAW) is highly visible politically so it is really important that this works,” said Norwegian Maj. Christian Langfeldt, a C-17 Globemaster III student who will be the wing’s director of operations. “Without the training that (Altus AFB) gives us, there would not be a HAW.”
In 2009, more than 24 foreign pilots and loadmasters will learn from Altus instructors how to fly and load Globemasters. Two loadmasters will be the first HAW students to graduate May 28, followed a week later by two pilots.
“The training is almost exactly like what we put the pilot initial-qualification students through,” said Maj. Bernie Allemeier, Airlift Student Flight commander. “The majority of (it) consists of (computer-based training) and several hours in simulators. They start out with non-motion, going through checklists and finding out switches.”
After that, students train in full-motion simulators to learn about different configurations, some tactics and low-level flying, said Major Allemeier. The culmination of simulation training leads to three real flights.
“The first flight will be during the day and they will be doing low-level pattern work to include tactical arrival and tactical departure,” he said.
The aviators also work with loadmasters on ground operations, including combat offloads, aircraft backing and engine-running offloads.
The second flight includes a mix of traditional night landings and those in which pilots wear night-vision goggles.
“Their third flight is during the day and that will be their check ride,” said Major Allemeier.
Capt. Oeyvind Haaheim, a veteran Norwegian air force pilot, complimented the Globemaster training. “(It) is very effective,” he said. “We have been here just more than a month and now we are starting to feel we can operate the aircraft. All of the instructors are very helpful and all of the training guides and training aides are easy to understand.”
Captain Haaheim said learning still takes hard work. “There is still a lot of training ahead of us, but after the three months of training here I am very confident that we’ll learn everything needed to pilot the C-17,” he said.
Major Langfeldt welcomes the challenge of providing airlift to 12 countries. “Working at the HAW is going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “It will be a great experience to work with all of the different nations. It’ll be an honor to represent my country as a part of this multi-national force.”