NEW CASTLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Delaware --
If you've ever stared off into the clear blue sky and dreamed of sailing off into it; if you've ever gazed up at a gentle layer of pure white clouds and wondered what it was like to glide along the top of it; if you've ever felt that patriotic sense of pride well up inside of you and wanted to do something about it; if you think a career in aviation sounds exciting to you - then you should know that the Delaware National Guard offers two extraordinary opportunities to fulfill your dreams of taking flight while serving your state and your nation.
Delaware Air Guard crew positions and aircraft
If you wish to be a crew member on a fixed wing aircraft you have the opportunity to take to the air in the C-130 Hercules transport, the versatile tactical airlift aircraft operated by the Delaware ANG from the New Castle ANG Base, Delaware.
Delawareans have seen our Lockheed C-130H model aircraft flying into the wild blue yonder to perform local training or humanitarian missions or to deploy overseas since our factory-fresh aircraft arrived in the mid-1980s.
The Delaware ANG's 166th Airlift Wing operates eight C-130Hs with about 120 air crew assigned to its four crew positions - pilot, combat systems officer (CSO; previously called a navigator), flight engineer (FE) and loadmaster.
The wing's flying unit, the 142nd Airlift Squadron, has approximately 40 pilots, 20 CSOs, 20 flight engineers and 40 loadmasters. The normal air crew compliment is five with two pilots; the aircraft commander and the co-pilot. The total air crew equals 10 percent of the wing's 1,200 members.
The 166th AW is one of 19 ANG units and about a dozen Active-duty and Air Force Reserve locations that operate over 400 C-130s and its variations. The Air Force is considering several modifications to extend the useful life of the C-130H aircraft.
"The C-130H is such an important crew aircraft," said Lt. Col. Michael Reneski, chief pilot in the 142nd AS. "Everyone has a job to do, and everyone has to do it on time." Coordination and teamwork is the key for the different positions, said Reneski. "CSOs and pilots have to work very closely together as a team," especially on the timing of approaches for a landing to handle the "what" and "when" of actions to be taken, he said. "CSOs have extra work for ocean crossing missions, and work positions with the pilot for safety, and clearance for takeoffs and landings.
"Night vision goggle flying brings added elements to the job of all aircrew, but in particular to the pilots. CSOs and flight engineers have added work for airdrops and tactical flying, and loadmasters for airdrops and for engine running on-loads and off-loads.
"The work of FEs involves handling a lot of systems," such as electrical, fuels, anti-icing or de-icing, air conditioning, heat, pressurization and engines," said Reneski.
The two upcoming articles in this series on how to become a pilot or CSO in the Delaware ANG, and how to become a FE or loadmaster in the Delaware ANG will provide details for interested applicants.
Delaware Army Guard crew positions and aircraft
If you wish to be a crew member on a rotary aircraft you have the opportunity to take flight aboard the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter operated by the Delaware Army National Guard.
The Delaware ARNG operates Black Hawks from the Army Aviation Support Facility at the New Castle Airport, New Castle, Del., and the unit received the first of their 14 Black Hawks a decade ago.
The Black Hawk, manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft, serves in the most extreme conditions found on earth. The UH-60 models flown by the Delaware ARNG are commonly found operating on battlefields in Southwest Asia in support U.S. forces and conducting humanitarian missions throughout the world.
The Black Hawk requires two pilots, and the Delaware ARNG has 30-40 UH-60 aviators spread out among two units; one utility unit and one medevac unit, both of which have seen extensive duty while deployed overseas recently to Southwest Asia combat zones. Volunteers with the utility unit also deployed to the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005 for Hurricane Katrina relief operations.
The utility unit is Company A, 3rd Battalion, 238th Aviation Regiment, part of the 72nd Troop Command. Utility flights include two crew chiefs, and the mission is to provide aerial command and control support, limited air assault, air movement for an army division and VIP transport. Their state mission is to transport VIPs and Delaware Emergency Management Authority personnel, and assist with mass communication efforts in the event of an emergency by using aircraft mounted speakers. While the role is not frequently provided within Delaware, they can also deliver equipment and supplies.
The medevac unit is Company F, Detachment 1, 1/126th General Support Aviation Battalion. Medevac flights include one crew chief and one flight medic, and the mission is to provide aeromedical evacuation and support within a theater of operations. They have a limited state role, and would be a backup in the event civilian first-responder medevac helicopters were overwhelmed, such as in a sustained mass-casualty scenario. The unit did deploy to Fort Lewis, Washington for a year, performing medevac on-call duty to assist civilians in distress in the rugged terrain of the Pacific Northwest.
The large majority of helicopter pilots in these units are Warrant Officers (WO), but a small number are commissioned officers, typically the platoon leader, executive officer or commander.
An upcoming article in this series on how to become a pilot in the Delaware Army National Guard will provide details for interested applicants.
Crew training periods, pay and benefits
Annually, each air crew member in the Delaware ANG or ARNG completes 48 Additional Flight Training Periods (AFTPs), which consist of four-hour paid training blocks. These AFTPs are in addition to the standard 48 four-hour paid training periods which all members of the Delaware Guard typically perform during 12 Unit Training Assemblies (UTAs), the standard once-a-month weekend drill.
All air crew receive flight pay, and sometimes hazard pay, in addition to the normal pay and benefits afforded to Delaware Guard members. That includes pay for UTAs, college assistance available from the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Delaware National Guard state tuition assistance program, the opportunity to participate in medical and dental care programs, and a monthly military pension which starts at age 60 for those who complete 20 "good years" of service.
Next article in series: How to become a Pilot or Combat Systems Officer in the Delaware Air National Guard
Introduction: Introduction to feature series on how to become an aviator in the Delaware National Guard.
The entire series will be posted on www.166aw.ang.af.mil