YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan --
Cold weather, snow and clouds is not an ideal scenario for a mission, but it served as a proper real world training scenario for members of the 459th Airlift Squadron as they completed hoist training at a landing zone near Mt. Fuji, Japan, Jan. 13.
“One of the most important things we gain from these sorties is the experience and the ability to practice what we are potentially going to do in a short moment’s notice,” said Capt. Johnathan Bonilla, 459th Airlift Squadron standards and evaluations chief. “We always gain classroom knowledge where we read about scenarios and how they happen, but being able to get the first-hand experience of this kind of training and potential environmental risks that can take place during a mission is highly beneficial for future scenarios.”
During the scenario, the aircrew performed an alternate insertion of crew members, hoist insertion and extraction from 25-35 feet above ground, and proper landing and take-off techniques throughout various landing zones.
One of the crew members was a flight surgeon, Lt. Col. Valerie Johnson, 374th Medical Group aerospace medicine chief, who served as a ground safety observer for the hoist training.
“Having Johnson fly with us today helped tremendously because one of the personnel was not formally trained in using a hoist,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Wright, 459th AS special mission aviator evaluator. “When hoisting a person from the ground, we need someone who is qualified to make sure that nothing is going wrong and the person is secured in the hoist harness.”
The 459th AS improved their search and rescue capabilities by outfitting two UH-1N Iroquois with the rescue hoists last year.
Previously, without the hoist, conducting rescues in small, tight areas wasn't feasible. Now, the 459th AS can conduct any type of search and rescue scenario throughout the Kanto Plains.
“This training helps us strengthen our proficiency in case we need to respond to a real world situation,” Wright said. “The Fuji range allowed us to gain experience by performing our operations within the mountain, experiencing the different wind patterns that take effect and dealing with the cold weather temperatures.”