C-130s operate at KCI
By Staff Sgt. Michael Crane, 139th Airlift Wing
/ Published August 01, 2011
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- A grey C-130 prepares to take off like it has done a thousand times before. But this time, it's taking off from the Kansas City International Airport 40 miles south of its home, Rosecrans Airport in St. Joseph.
The 139th Airlift Wing began flying and operating its C-130s out of KCI in July. First, KCI was being used to park the planes there at night. When the Missouri River reached 11 to 12 feet above flood stage, the decision was made to operate out of KCI on a daily basis.
"It's basically a detachment operation similar to how we would operate overseas at a temporary location," said Lt. Col. Byron Newell, 139th Operations Group chief of standardization and evaluation. "Starting with just a couple of rooms, a ramp, a place to park the air planes. "
The 180th Airlift Squadron and 139th Maintenance Group have a small section at the old Trans World Airlines (TWA) overhaul hanger. The floor looks just like any hanger floor. The Airmen have set up 'expeditionary' shops just like they would in a deployment.
Upstairs, the air crew have a room to do their flight planning. Newell says there has been zero impact on mission capabilities.
"[We've] established the infrastructure necessary to do operations on a daily basis," Newell said. "We can file flight plans from here. We can download notices to Airmen. We can give weather briefings here."
Today's scheduled flights include two aircraft flying locally for training missions. Newell says today's flights focus on instrument proficiency and landing and takeoff proficiency.
"We call them 'around the flag pole' flights," says Newell. "Go out and practice but don't go too far away from home."
From the maintenance side of the house, anywhere from 30 to 40 Airmen work out of KCI on a daily basis, said Senior Master Sgt. Shawn Griffin, hydraulic shop chief.
"For us, having all the planes down here, that's our main mission, to take care of anything that has a maintenance issue," said Griffin.
Newell says it took a lot of work for them to be able to operate at KCI. The 139th Mission Support Group tested the water and the 139th Communications Flight set up wireless communications via "hot spots" due to lack of wiring in the walls.
"KCI has been very good to us," said Lt. Col. Gordon Meyer, 139th MXS. "They've bent over backwards to accommodate us."
"We are flying this operational mission the same way we would out of St. Joseph," said Newell.