ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England --
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- 48th Fighter Wing Airmen from various non-flying career fields were given the opportunity to ride in the backseat of the 492nd Fighter Squadron F-15E Strike Eagles, Feb. 26, 2021.
This rare opportunity comes in the form of an orientation flight, offered to those who have responsibilities related to aircraft and mission planning, or as an award to individuals who show exceptional performance in their duties.
“One important purpose of orientation flights is to give those related career fields a better understanding of our mission demands,” said Lt. Col. Mark Pauly, 48th Fighter Wing Inspector General. “The hope is that the increased mutual understanding helps the success of the overall enterprise.”
As the old saying goes, “It takes a village,” to keep the mission running smoothly, and in the case of the 48th FW, it takes a lot of coordination from a lot of different Airmen to keep the eagles in the sky.
Ground crew airmen rarely get to see what happens after the aircraft take off. These flights provide an opportunity for them to become more accustomed to the aircraft in their care by getting a first-hand experience of its capabilities while in the air.
“Being able to see the final culmination of everything we do as a team day in and day out was truly an amazing experience,” said Senior Airman Joseph Robinson, 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron dedicated crew chief. “It definitely gave me a whole new appreciation for all of the hard work we as crew chiefs put into these aircraft every single day.”
The benefits also extend to various non-maintenance career fields that perform duties related to sortie generation, including air traffic control, airfield management, and operations support personnel.
Airman 1st Class Nancy Montalvo, 48th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, doesn’t work with the aircraft directly but plays a part in making sure the aircrew are outfitted with the gear they need on every flight, from helmets and oxygen masks, to life-saving emergency equipment like parachutes and life rafts.
“Every time the aircrew return from a sortie, I know that I did my part in helping them carry out our mission and come back home safe,” said Montalvo. “I take immense pride in my work, now more than ever, having experienced the full power behind these aircraft.”
Orientation flights serve as a valuable way to reward Airmen for their outstanding service, motivate others, and most importantly, give Airmen a chance to see the ultimate result of their hard work.
Every duty in the Air Force plays an important role in driving the mission forward and every Airman benefits from seeing the full spectrum of their contribution.