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Airdrops play a major factor

  • Published
  • By Rhonda Griffin
  • 43rd Airlift Wing staff writer
While in the field, ground troops often need supplies. But since they can't just run out to pick up what they need, the troops rely on airdrops. Their supplies, quite literally, fall from the sky. Airdrops are a major factor in keeping ground troops equipped and prepared for whatever task they may face. While in the field, needed supplies can range from personal items and food to heavy equipment and ammunition. These items are loaded into bundles, strapped into an aircraft and dropped from an airplane to parachute down to the ground. This is one of the many tasks of a loadmaster. Though the airdrop process may sound easy, it takes precision and skill. Each bundle or platform must be properly rigged and examined, and they must drop from the aircraft at the exact time from the perfect altitude to safely reach the destination. One tiny flaw could lead to disaster. There simply is no room for error. "We drop bundles and heavy equipment platforms, which can contain guns, ammo, a tank, a Humvee," said Tech. Sgt. Brad Fox, a 2nd Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "And we are the main drop for Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne." The 2nd AS performed one of many training missions Oct. 9. The day's mission: to accurately drop a Container Delivery System bundle from 10,000 feet. "We're practicing for the use of steerable chutes where we can drop from 20 miles away," Sergeant Fox said. The group is briefed on weather conditions and other pre-flight information before and after heading out to the aircraft. The bundles are loaded onto the aircraft, secured and inspected. The loadmasters then have an extensive in-flight checklist that must be followed during the mission. One of the main factors of a safe and secure airdrop mission is a squadron that trains hard and works well together. In watching the members of the 2nd AS prepare for the mission at hand, one would think they could read each other's minds. Each knew exactly what had to be done to complete yet another successful day as an Air Force loadmaster.