Squadron load crews face off in competition
By Senior Airman Chester Mientkiewicz, 366 Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 01, 2018
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit proved its weapons loaders were the wing's best during a quarterly weapons load competition January 29.
The 428th "Buccaneers", the 389th "T-bolts" and the 391st "Tigers" went up against each other in hopes of walking away with bragging rights as the best of the best.
“Winning was very important to us,” said Staff Sgt. Thad Hansen, 389th AMU weapons load crew chief. “It’s been awhile since the 389th won this competition.”
The competition began with each team doing a uniform inspection, followed by a written test on anything and everything regarding loading munitions. As soon as the written test was finished, they had roughly 30 minutes to review their jet and training munitions. After the review the actual loading happened and in the end everything was factored into an overall score.
While this event is a large attraction every quarter, the actual functions they demonstrate are performed all year long, including a required monthly certification.
“The load competition isn’t won by one individual.” Hansen said. “It takes all three of us. Everyone has to be on point.”
Hansen’s teammates included weapons load crew members Senior Airman Nicholas Pagan and Airman 1st Class Edgar Sokolovich.
In conjunction with the load competition, there is a bomb loader maneuverability course. The course tests the operator's driving abilities on a munitions lift truck as they navigate a series of cones.
Pagan won the event completing the sweep for the 389th.
“It’s rare for an individual to win both jammer and load competitions,” Pagan said. “This is something that doesn’t happen very often.”
While the event is a fun competition, it is a viewer friendly version of a very serious and important job where tiny details can mean massive failure or great success.
“Events like this raise moral while having fun competing,” Pagan said.