RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
After years of traveling from squadron to squadron to use ejection-seat simulators and searching for space to train aircrews and passengers wherever it was available, the 12th Flying Training Wing Aircrew Life Support Training section has consolidated so all training can be done in one building.
Currently, the training section has an open area containing all of its aircrew life support equipment and simulators, space adequate for deploying a 20-man raft for water survival training, two hanging-harness training devices and a classroom for academic training.
Renovations to Hangar 63, the current home to Aircrew Life Support Training, started in December of 2006, but there was a lot of planning and coordinating that started much earlier.
Reynaldo Gutierrez, 12th FTW Aircrew Life Support trainer, realized the need for a consolidated training facility shortly after beginning his job in 2005.
"I used to have to haul the life support equipment from squadron to squadron, depending on what training I was doing," Mr. Gutierrez said. "I would have to book rooms wherever they were available to do classroom training. We didn't have one place where everything could be done."
With the help of the rest of the wing's aircrew life support staff, Mr. Gutierrez established a proposal for a consolidated facility to present to leadership. They identified all space requirements needed to house equipment, simulators and training aids and worked with base agencies to find a spot for the facility.
The plan was approved and renovations of Hangar 63 started soon after.
Maj. John Pilong, 12th FTW Life Support officer, said the plan for the new facility did not meet much resistance.
"It was a much needed change and was completely supported by leadership," he said. "The biggest challenge was figuring out how to efficiently spend the money and maximize our ability to effectively train."
The Aircrew Life Support Training section not only trains navigators, instructor pilots and students who are attending school here, they train anyone who flies in the wing's aircraft. The section was responsible for providing training for more than 1,900 aircrews and passengers in 2006.
The team also gives briefings to high school students and other groups who come to tour Randolph.
"Taking tours through the new facility will take the burden off of the aircrew life support shops, which were fitting them into their schedules previously," Mr. Gutierrez said. "The new facility will free up a lot of room in those shops as well."
Major Pilong said the space they have gained for their training section has given space back to the flying training squadrons as well.
"In the past, training was conducted in the flying squadrons, with inadequate space and many distractions," the major said. "With the consolidated facility, we have removed all distractions and freed up much needed space in the squadron life support shops. Now, we can provide an environment conducive to retention of such crucial training."
Mr. Gutierrez said the new facility is a great help to his section, but couldn't have been done without the support of many different organizations throughout the wing.
"There are so many people who helped make this facility a reality and I am very thankful," he said. "The new facility keeps with the proud Randolph tradition of being the 'Showplace of the Air Force.'"