Investment in our Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zachary Foster
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing, Public Affairs

With more than 6,000 requests to move more than 4 million pounds of cargo annually, the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron ground transportation flight makes training multi capable Airmen their top priority.

For the past four years, the ground transportation team introduced a vehicle simulator to supplement the unit’s rigorous training regimen.

Training starts in the classroom setting to give Airmen the opportunity to familiarize themselves with general operator safety.

“Our training starts with learning all of the fundamentals surrounding driving,” said Airman 1st Class Ronkeith Patterson, 6th LRS ground transportation vehicle operator. “We learn all of the hazards, speed limits, brake tests, and everything else that you’d need to know when operating a large vehicle. That’s important because we need to know what errors to look out for when we’re out there.”

Once Airmen have taken the time to understand how to safely operate the vehicles, they are taken to the simulator to test their skills without endangering the equipment or themselves.

“All of our operators are given time to learn on the simulator so they can get firsthand experience prior to handling the vehicle,” said Staff Sgt Chase Terry, 6th LRS ground transportation training validation operations examiner. “This is a huge improvement because beforehand we’d take them to an empty lot and just let them drive for a while, essentially putting someone brand new into an unfamiliar situation with very expensive consequences.”

According to Terry, the simulator provides an added layer of protection for the operator to “try and fail” in a safe environment. With immersive and real time feedback, the simulator allows operators the ability to tackle unique situations without having to worry about damaging the vehicles.

The ground transportation team is continually looking for ways to better support their junior enlisted Airmen and save the Air Force money. The team views the vehicle simulator as an investment in their Airmen and hopes the commitment to training will reduce the need for repairs in the future.

“This simulator was a one-time cost of $500,000- which sounds like a lot but is a great investment compared to the potential cost of repairs,” Terry said. “One sideswipe in a bus can be up to $10,000, over time that adds up. We see this as an investment in our operators; we’re spending the time and money upfront to properly train our team and ensure they are able to safely carry out their duties every day.”

The vehicle simulator was purchased using “wing innovation funds” and is open to all other units across the installation. For more information on how to schedule a training call 813-828-5282.