Photo above – Senior Airman John Botner, 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit assistant dedicated crew chief, instructs employees of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport how to recover an F-35A Lightning II, May 21, 2019, in Mesa, Ariz. The training consisted of a classroom course that gave specific instructions on where to place pins to secure the aircraft, along with a hands on opportunity to familiarize themselves with Air Force protocol. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)
By Senior Airman Monet Villacorte
Members from the 309th and 61st Aircraft Maintenance Units partnered with the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport to conduct transient aircraft training on May 21 for Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport employees.
The training is essential to ensure airport employees know how to safely recover Luke aircraft that may divert there in the event of an emergency or inclement weather.
“Mesa [Gateway Airport] reached out to us and were looking for training on how to recover these jets,” said 2nd Lt. Phillip Resnick, 56th Operations Support Squadron Airfield Operations officer. “This is one of the primary divert [locations] that we use. If there’s bad weather or an emergency, they will come here if they aren’t able to make it back to Luke.”
Not only did the 17 airport employees attend a class with instruction taught by approximately 15 maintainers from the 309th and 61st AMUs, they also received hands-on training with an F-16 Fighting Falcon and two F-35 Lightning II from Luke.
Employees were taught how to chock, pin and conduct safety checks to secure the aircraft and shelter it until Luke maintainers reach the airport.
“I’m excited that everyone [got] a first-hand perspective on the training from the actual military personnel that work on these aircraft,” said Amy Seifried, Line Shift Supervisor, Gateway Aviation Services at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, “We [learned] the correct way and the safest way to handle them.”
Ensuring that both the pilots and personnel on the ground felt safe and confident in their abilities to land and recover the aircraft was another goal of this training.
“We are trying to help them become more prepared to safely receive our jets without any issues,” said Resnick. “We’re also looking around to see if we can bring anything to make it safer for everyone and make sure that our pilots feel comfortable landing here.”
Because of this training, Airmen were able to engage with the local community while imparting knowledge to Mesa’s airport employees.
“We’ve forged really good relationships with them,” said Resnick. “This is a really good opportunity to build community partnerships and for our Airmen to show all the great work they do.”