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Weather can't stop desert-dwelling Airmen at Red Flag-Alaska

by Airman 1st Class Nora Anton
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


4/19/2007 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFNEWS) -- Working in a cold-weather environment may not be in the repertoire of desert-dwelling maintainers supporting Exercise Red Flag-Alaska 07-1, but Airmen from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., don't seem to mind and they're not about to let it affect their mission.

"If it wasn't chilly here I would probably be disappointed," said Staff Sgt. Craig Bair, a 61st Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief.

Even though the temperature was 30 degrees when he arrived April 4, Sergeant Bair believed "it was going to be colder."

With the temperature at Luke AFB around 75 to 90 degrees, Airmen had to pack cold weather gear for the trip north for Red Flag-Alaska. Red Flag-Alaska is a Pacific Air Forces-directed field training exercise flown under simulated air combat conditions, thus forcing maintainers to work in the cold environment to prep aircraft for missions. 

"Coming from such a warm environment as Luke, we knew we had to outfit everyone with the proper gear," said 1st Lt. Sarah Ziegler, the 61st FS maintenance officer in charge. "Fortunately, the weather has cooperated so far."

Senior Airman Richard Adamowich, a 61st FS F-16 avionics journeyman, has been to Alaska once previously and said he likes seeing trees again compared to the flat, arid desert. 

The most nominal difference working in this environment is the protective gear that must be worn.

"It's amazing how fast your body acclimates itself to an environment," Airman Adamowich said. "We still have to wear a lot more gear than at Luke."

"The colder weather makes us move a little slower as far as getting all of our jackets and other clothing on," Sergeant Bair said, who is in charge of doing final checks on all the jets.

The biggest difference for Airman Adamowich is wearing gloves while he does his aircraft checks with radar and making sure the systems are all working correctly.

"The gloves really take away from your dexterity when working," he said.



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