DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.(KELO-AM) – Ten F-16 Fighter Falcons and 150 Airmen from the South Dakota Air National Guard returned last month from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base where they conducted two weeks of mandatory readiness training.
The SDANG utilized Operation Snowbird, a program that allows northern tier ANG flying units to conduct training at Davis-Monthan and that would be hard, if not impossible in harsh weather conditions.
The 114th Fighter Wing, out of Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls, shares a joint-use field with the civilian airport, which can also restrict some of their training.
“We don’t have live-weapon capability out at Joe Foss Field,” said Col. Russ Walz, 114th Fighter Wing commander. “When we get to a location like Davis-Monthan and we have that ability, then we certainly exercise it.”
As part of their deployment, pilots receive the opportunity to do more night flying than normal.
“We will typically do one (night flight) a month,” Walz said. “When we get deployed, we like to take advantage of that, especially with night weapons and ranges.”
This opportunity also gave many of the traditional Guardsmen the chance to work continuously. As members of the ANG, some Airmen work full-time while traditional Guardsmen work one weekend a month.
The commander expressed his gratitude for being able to be a part of Operation Snowbird while emphasizing its importance.
Walz said that most of the 150 Airmen who visited are not full-time Guardsmen. They have primary civilian jobs ranging from bankers to doctors and lawyers.
“These opportunities give those Airmen a chance to step away from their civilian jobs and have a continuous, two-week period where they can focus on enhancing their military skills and career in the Air Force,” said Walz.
One of the Guardsmen’s favorite and more beneficial parts of the trip to Arizona was a break from the chilly weather of South Dakota.
“Maintenance is far easier with this weather,” said Tech. Sgt. Caleb DeGroot, 114th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics technician.
High resolution photos are available at www.flikr.com/southdakotanationalguard