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Scott wing receives new distinguished visitor plane

Senior Master Sgt. Bill Treakle of the maintenance squadron, 932nd Airlift Wing, directs the third C-40C to its parking spot right after it landed with Maj. Gen. Robert Duignan at the controls.  The Fourth Air Force commander flew the new plane from the factory to the Illinois Air Force Reserve unit on November 16, 2007.  Photo/Capt. Stan Paregien

Senior Master Sgt. Bill Treakle of the maintenance squadron, 932nd Airlift Wing, directs the third C-40C to its parking spot right after it landed with Maj. Gen. Robert Duignan at the controls. The 4th Air Force commander flew the new plane from the factory to the Illinois Air Force Reserve unit on Nov. 16, 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Stan Paregien)

Vice commanders from Air Force Reserve Command gather with Maj. Gen. Robert Duignan (center) as the 932nd Airlift Wing received its third C-40C distinguished visitor airlift plane at Scott Air Force Base recently.  The general piloted the new plane from the factory to the wing in Illinois.  Photo/Capt. Stan Paregien

Vice commanders from Air Force Reserve Command gather with Maj. Gen. Robert Duignan (center) as the 932nd Airlift Wing received its third C-40C distinguished visitor airlift plane at Scott Air Force Base recently. The general piloted the new plane from the factory to the wing in Illinois. Photo/Capt. Stan Paregien

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Out of the blue, a sparkling, freshly painted new plane touched down Nov. 16 near Belleville. The 932nd Airlift Wing, the only Air Force Reserve Command flying wing in Illinois, received its third C-40C distinguished visitor aircraft, as it arrived directly from the factory in Seattle.

Maj. Gen. Robert Duignan piloted the latest addition to the 932nd AW. He commands 4th Air Force at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., which oversees the airlift wing.

"The leading-edge capabilities and 21st-century capacities of the multi-mission C-40 provides us with an advanced platform to take great care of our distinguished visitors and to accomplish a range of essential missions, including cargo transportation and, when necessary, to maintain team integrity for critical missions," he said. "The C-40 has the mission legs and operational versatility we've always hoped for."

When the country's top military and civilian leaders fly around the world, Air Force reservists here are ready to make sure they receive the best care in the air. The reservists are part of a select group of military flight attendants who are members of the airlift wing's 73rd Airlift Squadron. Squadron crews currently fly VIP airlift missions on C-9C aircraft and the newer C-40C.

Senior Master Sgt. William Treakle, a 932nd AW maintenance crew member, marshaled the latest C-40 into position on the ramp at Scott AFB.

"It's a great day in our history and this is a great plane to work on for all maintainers," he said.

In addition to the maintainers on the ground and the pilots who fly the aircraft, it takes a special person to make in-flight service for high-level passengers. VIPs include the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the first lady of the United States, the secretary of state, secretary of the interior, the CIA director and the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, just to name a few.

These passengers are the top priority for Tech. Sgt. Tom Otten and other flight attendants who must also juggle other duties whether on the ground or at 28,000 feet.

"I love being a flight attendant because it gives me the opportunity to truly live the motto of service before self," Sergeant Otten said. "Our entire job revolves around putting others first and caring for their needs above our own. The amount of planning, flexibility and hard work that it takes to fly a mission is something that I find very challenging and very rewarding."

When he first began, there is one aspect of the job the sergeant had very little experience with - recipes and meal preparation.

"I had no cooking background," he said. "However, the flight attendant school was able to turn me into a very good cook. I had no prior flying experience, and, therefore, I found all of the aircraft training very interesting.

"The job also has its share of benefits to include a great opportunity to travel both nationally and internationally."

The schooling required of flight attendants involves a lot more than just learning how to cook. Attendants are trained and tested in many aspects of the flying portion of the mission including conducting a pre-flight inspection, handling in-flight emergencies and evacuating passengers in an emergency landing.

All of the training is centered on customer service, which flight attendants are expected to deliver at all times to the highest degree possible.

"We ensure that those leading and directing our warriors are able to do their jobs," Sergeant Otten said. "If we can get our policy makers where they need to be and have them arrive refreshed and happy, then they will be better equipped to handle their obligations."

With the arrival of its third C-40C aircraft, the airlift wing is looking for more flight attendants.

"All of the challenges facing our great nation around the world have placed a greater demand for our country's leaders to be present at more places throughout the world," Sergeant Otten said. "The U.S. Air Force ensures that the most powerful people in the world get safely where they need to be."

In addition to the basic flight attendant course taught at Lackland AFB, Texas, flight attendants go through the combat and water survival course at Fairchild AFB, Wash., the enlisted aircrew undergraduate course at Lackland AFB and egress simulator training taught by a major airline.

The 932nd AW continues to recruit and fill flight attendant slots. Anyone interested in applying for the job must qualify for a top-secret security clearance, be available to fly a 10-day trip every three months and be within the Air Force fit-to-fight standards.

Applicants must also pass a board interview process and meet flight physical requirements as a flying crew member. More information is available by calling 618-229-7173 or toll free 800-257-1212. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)