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Combat Aviation Advisors participate in airdrop competition

  • Published
  • By Nicole King
  • 919th Special Operations Wing

The luxury of readily available gear and resources is not always a reality for Combat Aviation Advisors working with partner nations in remote locations. These unique situations have led CAAs to find innovative ways to help partner nations accomplish their missions with resources and budgets that are realistic for them.

One way CAAs have been innovating is by using improvised parachute bundles for aerial delivery. While trained riggers normally build bundles with specific materials, improvised bundles can be made from locally sourced items on a smaller budget.

“We have built bundles using water bottles for crush materials where that was the only available material we could find,” said Master Sgt. Christian Becker, a 711th Special Operations Squadron CAA. “Basically, this whole process is using what you have to maximize the benefit for the mission.”

In order to hone these improvised parachute bundle building skills, the 711th SOS aircrew flight equipment team hosted a bundle building course during the December unit training assembly. Some active-duty CAAs and Army riggers also joined the training that included an extra element of competition for creating the best bundle.

“We have done training like this in the past, just more compartmentalized,” said Master Sgt. Juan Acevedo, the 711th SOS NCO in charge of training. “This was the first time we actually built and dropped the bundles that people made that same day.”

During the class, instructors demonstrated the bundle building process and then divided the students into teams to practice what they learned previously. Each team received a kit of limited supplies to build a bundle that included an egg and three soda cans. The competition aspect provided extra incentive to see who could best protect their bundle contents during the aerial drop.

 “I love that we are having a competition using skills outside of our normal careers,” said Maj. Daniel Saunders, a 711th SOS CAA participating in the training. “When we deploy as a small team, each of us has our expertise, but we want to learn from our teammates.”

After the CAAs finalized their improvised bundles, they loaded them on a C-145A Combat Coyote for aerial delivery and headed to the drop zone for the final portion of their training. While at the drop zone, they called in the air drops and watched how each bundle fared in protecting its fragile cargo.

“The training was excellent because it not only allowed us to introduce tactics, techniques and procedures to members of the squadron, it also gave us a chance to practice our advising,” said Becker. “Everyone loved it and mentioned how great it was. We are going to move forward doing more events like this.”

Only two of the eight eggs broke from impact and though some cans faced structural damage, none broke open. All eight bundles landed in their intended zone and the instructors said the training was a success.

“Now we all have a better idea on how to assist our riggers in airdrop operations,” said Saunders. “Exercises like this allow us to resolve team dynamics and help cement how we operate in a deployed environment.”