PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Airmen from the 41st Rescue Squadron conducted preparative “spin-up” training Dec. 5-15, at Avon Park Air Force Range, Fla.
The spin-up training involved Moody Airmen leaving the base to coordinate operations between Patrick AFB and Avon Park.
“We get two weeks to come down here, away from Moody and our additional duties to focus solely on going out and executing that combat search and rescue mission,” said Capt. Robert Smith, 41st RQS HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot who has deployed twice with this mission. “When we’re talking about ‘getting ready to deploy,’ this is probably the first time to fly with your hard crews. So you get to learn the ins and outs of everybody and what works.”
Building that comfort level prepares crews to respond quicker and more efficiently.
“We’re flying with the same individuals we’ll be flying with downrange,” said 1st Lt. Travis Worrell, 41st RQS HH-60G Pave Hawk co-pilot preparing for his first deployment. “So we’re learning how other guys think and what’s expected of each person in the crew, so that when we get a mission everyone already knows where they need to go and what they need to do.”
Avon Park was chosen as the location for this spin-up training due to the many factors that make it a more realistic deployed environment.
“At Moody we try to mimic these conditions as closely as possible, but Avon’s Range provides a couple of things we don’t have, such as 360 degree firing fans so we can shoot in any direction we want,” said Smith. “They also have a larger range with more maneuvering area, and more vehicles and buildings that we can shoot at. So it’s less of us using imagination, but actually utilizing the stuff that’s already there.”
For it being Worrell’s first deployment, he said he feels confident that the spin-up training is setting him up for success.
“This [training] is probably as close to the real world war that we’re fighting right now,” said Worrell. “I know personally, I’m learning a ton putting the entire rescue package together and employing it. I’ve had a blast with all the flying and when we get to where we’re going, we’ll use the same skills we’re gaining here again.”
It may be pleasant while practicing here in the states, but Smith knows the severity of their mission.
“I want the newer guys to come away from this as better aviators because that’s why we’re all out here,” said Smith. “That’s the endpoint of this whole exercise is to get better as an aviator so that we’re more effective at combat search and rescue.”