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Sun, Nov 14, 2004

Spare F-15 Scores For PACAF Team

Jet starters fail during William Tell event, pilot jumps out and boards spare

The Pacific Air Forces team put big points on the William Tell scoreboard after a touch-and-go start in their first event November 9 at Tyndall Air Force Base (FL).

The Operation Noble Eagle event simulates the launch of quick-response fighters that must react to an enemy aircraft crossing the border into the United States. The scenario requires pilots and maintenance personnel to run to the jets, start them, take off and intercept the enemy aircraft within a specific amount of time -- in the dark.

When the horn sounded for the PACAF team at 0700, a pilot, a crew chief and an assistant crew chief ran approximately 50 yards to each of two F-15 Eagles from Elmendorf’s 19th Fighter Squadron. The pilots climbed into the jets to start them while the maintainers briefly inspected the aircraft exteriors.

Within a minute, one jet’s engines were starting with a roar. The other jet’s engines were eerily quiet. Onlookers gasped as the pilot climbed back out of the F-15’s cockpit.

“When I got to the jet, the jet fuel starter failed,” said Capt. Travis Hazeltine, wingman for PACAF’s William Tell team. “I tried the second one, and it didn’t work, either. I grabbed my gear and ran to the next jet.”

A spare jet had been prepared for the flight by another pilot, just in case one of the first two malfunctioned -- just like in a real-world alert situation, said Captain Hazeltine. As the clock ticked closer to the five-minute time limit, the spare jet’s crew chief, Staff Sgt. Eric Bradley, and assistant crew chief, Tech. Sgt. Timothy Castro, raced to get their pre-launch inspections done while Captain Hazeltine fired up the engines.

“What we have to do in the cockpit is quick and simple, so the launch time really depends on how quickly and safely the maintainers can do their part of it,” said Captain Hazeltine.

Sergeants Bradley and Castro had the spare jet rolling out in five minutes and 20 seconds, which included the time it took for the pilot to try the first jet. That time was only 20 seconds over the time limit for using a single jet and is excellent for using a spare, according to Capt. Pete Fesler, the instructor pilot on the PACAF team.

“Those guys did awesome,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Roscoe, PACAF engines specialist. “That’s how it’s supposed to go.”

It was all in a day’s work for Captain Hazeltine, Sergeant Bradley and Sergeant Castro.  “It didn’t shake me,” said Captain Hazeltine. “The rest of the mission was perfect.” “We’ll get the job done,” said Sergeant Bradley. “We’re like the anchor leg of a relay.”

And what a relay it was. PACAF’s score for the Operation Noble Eagle event was only 60 points away from perfect. Twenty points were deducted for going to the spare jet and being 20 seconds over the time limit. Twenty-five points were deducted in the weapons director category for extraneous communications. Fifteen points were deducted from the maintenance score for a foreign object found near one of the jets.

With a total score of 4,690 out of a possible 4,750, the PACAF team demonstrated that a problem is only a problem if it isn’t dealt with correctly.

(Our thanks to 1st Lt. Amy Hansen, 3rd Wing Public Affairs for a great story!)

FMI: www.af.mil

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