Airmen from the 314th Fighter Squadron and 314th Aircraft Maintenance Unit worked out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, in San Diego, California, for a training exercise from May 29 to June 14, 2019.
Between the two squadrons, a total of 168 personnel, 16 F-16 Fighting Falcons and 14 tons of equipment were fully functional during the temporary duty assignment in support of 258 flying training sorties.
“The number one goal is to get the students to conduct dissimilar air combat training, which we refer to as DACT,” said Capt Eric Anderson, 314th FS instructor pilot. “We’re also exercising the squadron’s ability to take jets and people TDY to a new location and operate out of that new location.”
The F-16 Viper Basic Course students and instructor pilots had the opportunity to integrate with and train alongside F/A-18 Hornets with the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314. The exercises help enhance the pilots ability to react to the different airframe, which maneuvers differently from the F-16.
“It’s not too far from Holloman, here in San Diego, and they have a lot of aircraft here that provide the opportunity for DACT,” said Anderson. “They have five F/A-18 squadrons here, so a lot of different people to potentially fly with.”
Not only is the training of flying with another aircraft beneficial, pilots also had the opportunity to become oriented with a new airspace. According to Anderson, students are challenged with operating in a more congested area, which cause them to adjust altitude more frequently than at Holloman.
“There’s always new stuff to get used to,” said 1st Lt Brandon Reese, 314th FS B-Course student pilot. “We have different departure procedures and patterns we fly at Holloman – it’s different here, with how the Marines and Navy fly their patterns. There’s also new basic stuff you need to learn because they have different procedures here.”
The weather also created an additional challenge for student pilots.
“Holloman’s weather is clear, it’s always perfect,” Anderson said. “Here, every day, we’ve had some sort of weather that requires the students to fly instruments to get themselves back to the field and talking to the controllers. It’s a huge learning point for them, because a lot of places they’ll go, such as Korea, Europe and Japan. It’s good to have the experience, (in a controlled environment) with instructor pilots.”
In order to gain a fully functional mission, each unit within the squadron provides a critical role to the exercise. Operating out of deployed locations can introduce many challenges to the goal of maintaining base station operations.
In response to the hard work of the 314th AMU and 314th FS, several operations and maintenance Airmen had the opportunity to participate in familiarization flights.
Staff Sgt. Nicholas De Anda, 849th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Dedicated Crew Chief was one of many selected to fly.
“A lot of people are getting the chance to fly in the jet they’ve worked on for years,” De Anda said. “I just got mine and I’ve been in for five years, it’s a whole different experience! The FAM flights really bring together maintenance and ops relationship. It really shows us what they do on a daily basis and gives us a new (perspective into the) importance of our job.”