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Sailors learn how to load a C-17

McCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash., - Senior Airman Cheyenne Pantle (right) of the 86th Aerial Port Squadron, coaches Petty Officers 3rd Class Rosana Lima and Kurt Daubs in the proper use of tie downs to the floor of a C-17. This was the first time the Sailors had loaded cargo aboard a C-17. (USAF photo by Senior Airman Paul Haley)

McCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash., - Senior Airman Cheyenne Pantle (right) of the 86th Aerial Port Squadron, coaches Petty Officers 3rd Class Rosana Lima and Kurt Daubs in the proper use of tie downs to the floor of a C-17. This was the first time the Sailors had loaded cargo aboard a C-17. (USAF photo by Senior Airman Paul Haley)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Strangely enough, a group of naval Seamen from a landlocked state traveled to a state with some of the best ports in the country, to learn Air Force procedures for loading aircraft.
A group of Navy Reservists from Idaho came to McChord to train with members of the 86th Aerial Port Squadron Sept. 9 and 10.
The training provided the Seamen hands-on practice with loading and securing equipment on C-17s, as well as giving them information about safety procedures which differ from those used on C-130s.
"The purpose of the training is to teach them about our processes and about proper loading techniques," said Senior Master Sgt. James Kuchnski, load planning superintendent for the 86th APS.
The APS also teaches people from other services about hazardous materials that can't be transported on Air Force aircraft and materials that can't be stored near each other on the airplane, like flammable materials and oxygen.
The training isn't one way, however.
"Exercises like this are good for our customers, who learn about inspections and proper loading of equipment and pallets, and they're also good practice to reinforce what we do," Sergeant Kuchnski said.
For the Seamen, the training goes toward sharpening skills they need when deploying.
"This is the kind of training we need to do," said Petty Officer 1st Class Chuck Sistrunk, a culinary specialist with the Air Cargo Handling Company 5. "We get hands-on practice that we can use when we get deployed. I think we all learned a great deal."
The company, which supports Navy and Marine Corps air resources, normally practices loading techniques on Air National Guard C-130's stationed at their home base of Gowen Field, Idaho, said Lt. Cmdr. Tony Erickson, commander of ACH Co. 5.
"These airplanes are a lot easier to load and a lot safer than C-130's," Petty Officer 2nd Class Darrell Saxton, a corpsman with Co. 5, said of the C-17. "We're much more nervous when loading C-130's."
Petty Officer Saxton said ankle and other injuries caused by tripping over objects on the floor are prevented in part by the rollers on a C-17, which can be hidden by flipping panels over.