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446th Reserve aircrew maintain readiness, adjust to new normal

  • Published
  • By Maj. Candice Allen
  • 446th Airlift Wing

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — The ability to respond to threats remain on the forefront of the 446th Airlift Wing airmen’s minds. But, in light of COVID-19, new practices, procedures allow aircrews to be innovative and adjust to a new normal while staying combat-ready.

“Our mission hasn’t stopped,” said Lt. Col. Carl McBurnett, 728th Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot and aircraft commander of a local sortie flown here April 27.  “Reservists around the nation are flying. (Though) changes occur on a daily basis, we are doing it. The mission is still happening.”

With virtual training and local sorties, McChord Field Reserve aircrew are finding different ways to train to be ready to answer the nation’s call. Before the local sortie began, McBurnett briefed a few additional measures for the aircrew to employ like wearing cloth face covering, carrying sufficient hand sanitizer in kits, as well as exercising necessary distances and precautions in the cockpit.

McBurnett, who has been flying for 22 years, emphasizes his top priority to his crew, “Flight safety is our No. 1 priority.”

The local sortie included a combat offload and additional training to keep the pilots and loadmasters combat ready.

“Overall, we are trying to smartly accomplish our training, while taking appropriate risk mitigation measures,” said Lt. Col. Mark Boyd, 446th Operations Group commander.

With anything, one must continue to refine the processes to defeat the threat while accomplishing the mission.

“We plan to take the lessons learned from each mission, apply them, and make them better for future missions,” Boyd said. “Which means adjusting to a new normal.”