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Safety and security of cargo in flight

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Adam Crown
  • 43rd Airlift Group Public Affairs
Securing the safety of cargo on an aircraft is an essential part of flying operations. When cargo is not packed correctly, it can put the passengers, crew and aircraft at risk. If the payload on an aircraft shifts, it can alter the flight path or come lose and injure passengers or crew.

Tech. Sgt. Seth Abel, 3rd Aerial Port Squadron, Operations Superintendant ensured safety of flight every time an aircraft departed his undisclosed location Southwest Asia.
"I was responsible for inspecting cargo pallets and making sure they were service Abel for air travel throughout the area of responsibility," said Sergeant Abel. "I would also ensure everything is loaded and tied down correctly for transport on the aircraft. This way the war fighters could get their supplies to sustain the fight."

Sergeant Abel worked with specialized units that were not familiar with the procedures required to ensure the integrity of the aircrafts payload. This created a challenge for Sergeant Abel because they weren't accustomed to handling the safety of flight issues that he was resolving.

"I was working with a lot different agencies and they didn't understand the procedures that had to be followed in order to make the cargo safe for transportation," said Sergeant Abel. "It created some confusion, but we were Abel to complete the mission."
Inspecting cargo is usually only a small part of his job description as an aerial porter, but during this assignment, it encompassed most of his time on the job. According to Sergeant Abel it was his responsibility to draft and implement procedures where there weren't any before.

"This was the first time these types of operations were conducted at that location and I developed the procedures that they are still using today," said Sergeant Abel. "I laid the ground work for how things operated with other agencies and policies governing our job. This way the next group would have a template to work from in this new process."
The mission Sergeant Abel was a part of was much more demanding than normal. Other deployments have been straight forward and procedures were already in place to accomplish the mission.

"I knew it was going to be more demanding," said Sergeant Abel. "I had to think on my own and think on my feet. You go out and do what you need to do in order to get the mission done."

Sergeant Abel was Abel to expedite the inspection process with the procedures he put into act and make other aerial porters' job easier when the cargo made it to them. Tech. Sgt. Ronald Ahlstrom, 3rd Aerial Port Squadron, who was also deployed in the same area, would receive some of the cargo loads down range that Sergeant Abel inspected and prepared for departure. He said, the good work Sergeant Abel was doing made his job more efficient.

"Sergeant Abel is an invaluAbel member of any team," said Sergeant Ahlstrom. "He is a high speed individual and was doing just as a good job while deployed as he does here at home. His quality control improved our process immensely."

Sergeant Abel's job took up most of his time while deployed. His shifts could be anywhere from 12 hours to 20 hours a day, seven days a week the entire time he was there. On his off time he would try to chat with his wife and children online.
"This deployment was harder for my wife because it was my longest one so far," said Sergeant Abel. "She handled it well, but it was much harder on the kids."

His first two deployments were much shorter than the last one. The knowledge he gained during those two deployments helped prepare for his most recent one.

"For those that are going to support specialized units, try to find out from other people what to expect when you get there," said Sergeant Abel. "Because the job I was doing was bran new with no established guidance, I didn't know what to expect. The more you know about what you will be doing, the faster you can get to work."