By SrA Bobbie Reynolds, 140th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 15, 2015
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- "I am actually kind of a night owl," said Staff Sergeant Spencer Brauer, aircraft armament systems specialist, assigned to the 140th Maintenance Squadron here. "I like working the night flying missions and I especially like watching jets take off at night as a big dragon tail shoots out of the back. They aren't louder or anything, it just looks cooler."
Night flying not only gives Airmen on the ground a different perspective on the flight line, it also allows for necessary training during inspections such as the wing's wartime readiness inspection, which is the 140th Wing's 4-day effort to assess combat readiness, ensuring the Colorado National Guard is ready to fly, fight and win.
Night Flying is an important aspect of the WWRI, and although there are only a few differences in operating procedures, those differences are an important part of readiness training, which can only be practiced when the sun goes down.
Because an aircraft requires preparation to fly, maintenance when broken and attention to detail, lighting can be a challenge for the maintenance team at night.
"It's more difficult to work on the aircraft in the dark," said Brauer. "You have to have flashlights, and you have to make sure you're still wearing your safety equipment."
Although proper lighting and utilizing safety equipment can be a hindrance, the real challenges have been adjusting to the new procedures of the WWRI.
"The challenges have mainly been keeping up with the different munitions changes," said Brauer. "It can be tough to change things on the go. If we have jets loaded a certain way and operations want to change them in between flights, it can create a lot of work."
However, the benefits of night flying during a WWRI, rather than the operational readiness inspection, far outweigh the challenges of it.
"The best benefit of a WWRI is that it's not as high of a tempo as the ORI," said Brauer. "I feel like we haven't necessarily practiced as much for this, but because it's not as high of a tempo, we can keep up a little better and change things on the fly." He added, with a sigh of relief, that another benefit of the WWRI is not having to wear chemical gear, which was required in previous base inspections.
Night flying is an important piece of training for wartime readiness and this type of inspection is highly beneficial for the Air Force as a whole. It helps the wing understand its limits and capitalize on its strengths. Night flying under these new guidelines requires everyone to think on their toes instead of functioning from practiced execution. It measures raw reaction, ensuring overall readiness to go to war if needed. The success of night flying exercises will contribute, not only to the success of the Colorado Air National Guard, but to the Air Force as a whole.