Junior force experiences historic AFRL desert site

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Members of the Air Force Research Laboratory Aerospace Systems Directorate’s Junior Force Council pose for a photo while visiting Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in August. The “bluing” trip to the Rocket Propulsion Division allowed the group to get a better understanding of the mission there. (Air Force photograph by Frank Delsing)

Junior members of the Air Force Research Laboratory Aerospace Systems Directorate stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, visited one of AFRL’s historic sites in August to build camaraderie, enrich organizational awareness, and meet fellow teammates.

Ten members of the directorate’s Junior Force Council attended a “bluing” trip to the AFRL Aerospace Systems Directorate Rocket Propulsion Division at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The remote site is where the United States Air Force developed groundbreaking projects like the F-1 and RS-68 rocket engines used to power the Saturn V and Delta IV launch vehicles, respectively.

“[My favorite part of the trip] was the vastness of the test stands,” said 1st Lt. Wesley Jackman, a hypersonic propulsion systems engineer. “We got to check out a few of the platforms where they test the solid and liquid rocket engines and the magnitude of those tests is always amazing to see. We were standing hundreds of feet over this desert and it was really impressive.”

The directorate’s JFC typically sponsors one bluing trip per year. These trips are an opportunity for members to see some of the geographically separated units, like the Rocket Propulsion Division at Edwards AFB. This trip was a unique opportunity, however, as most of the bluing trips in the past have been to AFRL units outside the directorate such as those located at Kirtland and Eglin AFBs. Bluing experiences are intended to broaden the individual’s knowledge of AFRL’s mission and inspire future career options.

“I’ve never been to Edwards AFB before, so getting to see first-hand some of the things they do there was pretty awesome,” said Capt. Cameron Burchak, deputy branch chief for the Hypersonic Vehicle Technology Branch. “For example, I now have a better understanding of what the AFRL Rocket Lab does. It actually aligns with my personal interests—rockets–and I’m considering it as a potential opportunity in the future. That would likely have never happened had I not visited.”

“Bluing trips are very beneficial,” added Joshua Summerfield, a financial manager in the Science and Technology Funds Branch. “They allow young professionals to network with other personnel and experience the work being done at other bases.”

For more information on bluing trips, or the JFC, contact Capt. Luke Welch, Aerospace Systems Directorate JFC communications and public affairs officer. Trips typically take place each summer.

“I would tell someone contemplating a bluing trip to definitely go on the trip,” Summerfield said. “It is a great experience and opportunity to learn more about the Air Force.”