Reservists ramp up for Rodeo

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nick Przybyciel
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Don't expect any complacency at the 2007 Air Mobility Rodeo from the world's 2005 Best C-17 Wing. 

After picking up top honors for best C-17 wing at 2005's Rodeo - along with five other awards - the 446th Airlift Wing is working diligently to keep its title. When Rodeo competitions begin at McChord Air Force Base July 21, this group of reservists will put all their hard work and practice to use in order to top their rivals (uh, make that full partners in the war on terrorism). 

"We are practicing to win. We're putting a lot of time and effort into the competition - nothing is being left up to luck. But, the competition is very tough," said Lt. Col. Gregory Pyke, 446th AW team chief for 2007 Rodeo. 

Colonel Pyke would like to see each of the five teams the 446th AW has competing in this year's Rodeo place in their respective competitions. If this happens, he believes the wing has a good shot to hold on to its title. 

"We are going there to win Best C-17 Wing. If we come away with one trophy, we want that to be it," he said. 

Colonel Pyke brings years of experience to his leadership role. Taking part in a total of six Rodeos throughout his career, Colonel Pyke has flown in two competitions and umpired one. He hopes to pass on this experience to 446th AW competitors through rigorous practice. 

"I think we've put more effort into it than most wings," Colonel Pyke said. 

The 446th AW will compete in aircrew, maintenance, security forces, aerial port and aeromedical evacuation competitions. 

High standards for this year's aircrew were set at Rodeo 2005 when the 446th crew nabbed top prizes for Best C-17 Airdrop Team, Best C-17 Air Refueling Team and Best C-17 Aircrew. 

Although the aircrew is comprised completely of Reservists, they are practicing full-time during the week, which presents an array of challenges. "Trying to coordinate our training with the (active duty's) training is a juggling act because there are only so many planes available," said Maj. Charles Corrigan, 313th Airlift Squadron pilot and Rodeo co-pilot. 

Bringing home gold is the prime goal for this year's aircrew. "We're going to do no less than last time," said Maj. Garin Tentschert, 97th AS pilot and Rodeo aircraft commander. 

Making sure they have the best bird available to sweep the competition are 446th AW maintainers. 

"We've taken on an aircraft that's been out in the system flying hard," said Senior Master Sgt. Cameron Pence, regarding the C-17 Globemaster III he and his fellow teammates are busy gearing up for the 2007 Rodeo. 

At the 2005 competition, Reserve maintainers from the 446th AW won the Best Pre-Flight Team award. However, their active-duty counterparts and Rodeo rivals from the 62nd AW walked away with the prize for best C-17 maintenance team. 

Meanwhile, 446th AW aerial porters are hoping to make another strong showing this year. The team garnered first prize for Best C-17 Engine Running On / Offloads during the 2005 Rodeo competition, and they're anxious to prove their mettle once again. 

"The team is really excited. They know their goal and are ready to compete," said Master Sgt. Ron Cargill, this year's team manager. "Our (reservists) have all sacrificed their own time, coming in two evenings each week and performing both the A and B weekends to accomplish training and meld as a team." 

Further helping matters is the experience that comes from the last competition.
"In 2005 we didn't have any prior competitors on the team, so we had to learn as we went. This year, two of us are returning and can share the skills and scenarios we experienced previously," said Tech. Sgt. Josh Warbiany, a Rodeo veteran. 

After walking away from the 2005 Rodeo without any hardware around their necks, security forces and aeromedical evacuation reservists from the 446th AW plan on making their marks this year. 

"We have a really well-rounded team, with a variety of backgrounds. We're eager to show off what we can do and win the trophy," said Senior Airman Giovanni Garcia, a member of this year's team. 

Hoping to overcome one of the biggest challenges in the aeromedical competition - demonstrating skill on a variety of airframes, Airmen from the 446th AES have participated in joint medical exercises such as Golden Medic. "We had multiple airframes to train on," said Col. Jan Moore-Harbert, 446th AES commander. 

With all their hard work, reservists from the 446th AW are optimistic about how they will fare in the 2007 Rodeo. However, Sergeant Pence from the maintenance team pointed out that there is more to the event than just friendly competition. 

"It's a chance to enhance our professional abilities and knowledge," he said. "It's a great growth opportunity for everyone involved."