Luke Conducts Transient Aircraft Training with Mesa Airport

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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. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)

MESA, Ariz.–Members from the 309th and 61st Aircraft Maintenance Units based at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., 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.

Staff Sgt. Allen Ehmes, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-16C Fighting Falcon dedicated crew chief, shows employees of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport inside the cockpit of an F-16, May 21, 2019, in Mesa, Ariz. The airport serves as an alternate landing location in the event of an emergency or other incident. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)

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.

Airmen assigned to the 309th Aircraft Maintenance Unit provide an orientation of the F-16C Fighting Falcon, May 21, 2019, at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Ariz. The orientation gave an in-depth look and hands on experience of how to recover the jet and ensure that it’s properly recovered and secure. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)

“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.”
 

Senior Airman John Botner, 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit assistant dedicated crew chief, secures an F-35A Lightning II, May 21, 2019 at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Ariz. Botner was part of the crew that taught the employees of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport what to do if a Luke Air Force Base jet had to land there in an emergency situation. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)

 
Airmen assigned to the 309th Aircraft Maintenance Unit brief employees of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, May 21, 2019, in Mesa, Ariz. The training included instructions on how to recover an F-16C Fighting Falcon and an F-35A Lightning II in the event an aircraft must land there. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)