Chilled to Perfection

Cold-weather training readies maintenance squadrons for difficult missions

Alaskan Command Public Affairs

A combination of virtual reality training and exposure to bone-chilling Alaskan cold helped Airmen from Travis Air Force Base, California, gain the certifications they needed to perform critical missions in extreme weather conditions.

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) hosted a five-day training event November 18-22, 2019. Fighter, transport and refueling aircraft were used as part of the de-icing/anti-icing training, which allowed the Airmen to gain the qualifications and certifications needed to de-ice aircraft and vehicles and to perform aircraft maintenance during cold-weather conditions.

A C-17 Globemaster III flies over the Chugach Mountains during an aircraft maintenance training exercise in Alaska. SENIOR AIRMAN JONATHAN VALDES MONTIJO/U.S. AIR FORCE

A de-icing simulator allowed them to practice their techniques before they were asked to operate the machinery. “It allows an individual who has never operated a de-ice basket to become quite familiar and proficient with the basket controls and overall de-icing operation without feeling the added pressure of maneuvering around an actual aircraft,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Dave Pimentel, 821st Contingency Response Squadron (CRS) maintenance flight chief assigned to Travis. He also noted how the virtual reality software enables trainees to have an immersive experience and how the simulator can be adjusted to fit any type of weather condition.

Team members who had never performed de-icing operations said the simulator work made the live training less stressful, Pimentel said. The experience becomes priceless when it comes to ensuring maximum readiness for a wide range of potential missions. “The 821st CRS has a multifaceted mission, and this training prepares them for contingencies in an Arctic environment,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Gered Crawford, 732nd Air Mobility Squadron lead production superintendent.

Pimentel emphasized the importance of readiness when it comes to maintaining aircraft in all climates and locations. “The experiences, training and qualifications obtained here at JBER are vital to ensuring our aircraft maintainers are proficient in Arctic environments,” Pimentel said.