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U.S., Philippine Airmen train together for Exercise Balikatan 2016

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Michael Smith
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
U.S. and Philippine Air Force C-130 Hercules pilots and loadmasters exchanged operational knowledge during joint training as part of Exercise Balikatan 2016 April 8, 2016.

Balikatan, a Filipino term that meaning “shoulder-to-shoulder," is an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military, which focuses on the Philippine-U.S. partnership, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities. This was exemplified as the Philippine’s 220th Airlift Wing welcomed the 36th Airlift Squadron Airmen during the all-day training session, which focused on enhancing night operations.

“It was very fulfilling to teach and have them be so excited about night vision goggles (NVGs) and C-130s,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Scott Brooks, a 36th AS C-130 pilot. “This is something that I love to do and it was great to see how excited they were to fly on a C-130. It was a new opportunity for me and I'm fortunate to be a part of this exercise.”

The day began with lectures on low-level night flying, use of NVGs and U.S. Air Force loadmaster techniques, and ended in a night flight on a C-130 over Philippine islands. The flight was a first for many of the PAF pilots because many of them have only recently completed flight school.

“I learned a lot from the U.S. loadmasters and pilots. Their gadgets are very high-tech and they know how to perform their jobs very well,” said PAF Airman 1st Class Jack Navarro, a 220th AW C-130 aircraft hydraulic system maintainer and loadmaster. “Seeing the capabilities of NVGs was great. It lets us know that if we were able to get that ability here, we would be able to land in many of the airfields here that do not have taxi lights.”

After having the chance to get to know and work with the Filipino pilots, Brooks said he was confident in the prospects of their career.

“I’m excited about the possibility to work with the PAF in the future,” Brooks said. “There is no doubt in my mind about this new generation of Filipino pilots, they are 100 percent capable, willing and wanting to learn this stuff we’re here to teach them. We’re here to build relationships and friendships, so that's what we are doing.”

When the flight concluded, Navarro said thank you to the 36th AS for sharing their knowledge as a part of BK16, and hoped that in the future there would be many more opportunities for the two countries to share knowledge with each other.