1st Aviation Standards Flight (ASF)
The Air Force Reserve Command 1st Aviation Standards Flight (ASF) performs flight inspections of navigational-aid radars and instrument procedures at military and civilian installations in the United States and overseas. Organizationally gained in peacetime under the 507th Air Refueling Wing's Operations Group, during activation the flight is gained by the Air Force Flights Standards Agency. The new Reserve associate flight augments Air Force Flight Standards Agency Detachment 1, the on-site active-duty unit. The reservists help provide some continuity to an always changing active duty population. In peacetime, the unit performs radar inspections for military and civilian airports stateside and overseas.
The Air Force reservists fly and maintain the C-29A aircraft, a military version of British Aerospace Hawker 125-800 light corporate executive transport. Six were ordered by USAF for the combat flight inspection and navigation mission roles. In 1991 the Air Force turned over flight inspection and its C-29s to the FAA and went from 150 people to just 24. Those two dozen pilots, technicians, maintenance and support staff are responsible for a worldwide flight inspection mission.
The 1st Aviation Standards Flight is a new mission for the Air Force Reserve and the 507th Air Refueling Wing. As of 01 June 1998, the 1st Aviation Standards Flight with 23 full- and part-time citizen airmen stood up at Will Rogers Airport, Oklahoma City. When fully manned, the flight consists of 23 people - one officer and three enlisted AGRs (Active Guard Reserve) who are full-time people, and seven officer and 12 enlisted traditional reservists.
The pilots and electronic technicians of the Air Force Flight Standards Agency's Detachment 1 are the Air Force's only combat flight inspection unit. Located at the Federal Aviation Administration's Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, the unit provides flight inspection right alongside the FAA for U.S. and overseas military bases - anywhere our aircraft happen to be flying. Flight inspection involves verifying the quality and accuracy of navigational aids (called navaids) pilots use to land and navigate their aircraft.
In order for DOD to make sure their navigational aids are available for combat aircraft, they need to have them inspected. And Det. 1 has seen its share of combat zones, from Desert Shield and Storm to Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia and Haiti. Most of the time, they're the first aircraft in the traffic pattern, making sure everything's operating at peak performance. In Mogadishu, Somalia, at the beginning of hostilities, Det. 1 had to keep its FAA-marked aircraft out over the water to avoid sniper fire from the warring factions. Being one of the first aircraft in country meant there was no prepositioned jet fuel. So all flying originated in Mombassa, Kenya. Quite a haul, especially if something happens en route. When the crew was ready to leave Kenya and head home, there was another fuel shortage. Fuel was downloaded from a C-130 just so they could leave.
A flight check crew consists of a pilot in command, second-in-command and an electronic technician. In flight checks, the pilot in command sits in the right seat and runs the flight inspection mission while the left-seater positions the aircraft. The technician in back is busy recording all the data necessary to complete the inspection. Training takes more than a year for both pilots and technicians. But once they graduate, they're ready to go anywhere anytime to accomplish the flight check mission as FAA-certified airspace system inspection pilots and airspace inspection technicians.
All this activity takes part under the FAA, which owns the aircraft and sets the priorities for day-to-day operations. The military participates in everything they do.
A three-member crew from the 507th Air Refueling Wing's 1st Aviation Standards Flight deployed 16 April 1999, to Western Europe in support of Allied Force, the NATO airstrike campaign over the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Flying the FAA's British Aerospace BAE 125/800 "Hawker" aircraft (which is already in place overseas), the reservists operated in the theater of operations performing flight inspections of navigational-aid radars and instrument procedures. The reservists shared the workload equally with active duty counterparts already in the theater. The reservists were expected to stay in place anywhere from 2 weeks to 30 days with additional individual rotations as required. The mission performed by the 1st ASF is extremely important to overall NATO aircraft flying operations. The crew flew landing approach missions on military airfields to make sure the radar systems were working properly. They used the calibration instruments on board their Hawker aircraft to make sure that if the ground radar systems shows they are at a specific altitude, that they are actually at that altitude. They also checked the air traffic controller procedures to make sure they are by-the-book.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|