BRADLEY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE - East Granby, Conn. -- After five years with the C-21A Learjet, the 103rd Airlift Wing received a new aircraft on Oct. 5, 2013. Bradley Air National Guard Base is now home to three C-130H Hercules aircraft, with another five slated to arrive over the next several months. Along with the new aircraft and diverse mission set of the C-130H comes the task of training maintenance squadron personnel. Fortunately, because of the hard work completed by the wing, a "schoolhouse" of instructors and trainers were sent to Bradley Air National Guard Base so the Airmen could train on their own planes, and on their own turf.
"It's beneficial having the training here because we're still working a normal schedule and it doesn't interrupt family life," said Tech. Sgt. Jarrett Gran, 103rd Maintenance Squadron. "We are receiving the same quality of instruction as we would at a schoolhouse. We have very experienced C-130 instructors from the active duty side along with trainers from our Guard counterparts in Kentucky and Minnesota."
Another reason having the training here is beneficial is because we are training and working on the aircraft we own, said Gran. Each aircraft is unique and each individual aircraft has its own quirks and issues. Learning about these issues and training with them gives us an advantage that we wouldn't receive going to a traditional schoolhouse with pipeline students.
Tech. Sgt. Terrence Jones II, Kentucky Air National Guard, has worked with the C-130 for the last nine years and is one of the instructors providing on-the-job training to Flying Yankee maintenance personnel. His job is to cover training criteria for everything required to maintain the C-130H aircraft and keep them mission-ready.
Having the training at this base allows the Airmen to work on aircraft that will be performing real-world missions, Jones said. The Airmen will be finding discrepancies on their own aircraft and get to learn their aircraft inside and out. Learning on your own turf and operating with your own equipment is much more beneficial, said Jones. Along with the added benefit of holding in-house training at Bradley, the quality of instruction with this training is equal to that provided by a traditional schoolhouse.
There are schoolhouse trainers here along with other qualified personnel teaching the same course curriculum and providing the same training, said Jones. Training so far has been going smoothly. These guys aren't starting from square one, they're just learning a new airframe.
Jones also believes that it is not just the 103rd Airmen who are receiving all the benefit from having the training at Bradley.
It's been a pleasure working with the Connecticut Air National Guard Airmen, said Jones. As much as I'm teaching them, I'm learning from them as well. It's great to have this family-oriented type unit and connection. I appreciate them having and giving them the opportunity to train with them and I wish the best of luck to them, their unit and their future missions.