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Loadmasters Vital to Tactical Air Drop Mission

cargo dropped from an aircraft

Two of the 908th Airlift Wing’s C-130H Hercules drop cargo during exercise Auburn Tide at Maxwell Air Force Base Alabama. Auburn Tide was a wing-wide demonstration of pre-deployment readiness aimed at sharpening the skills of 908th Airmen in the months leading up to the largest deployment in the wing’s history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Max Goldberg)

service members prepare to load cargo on an aircraft

Master Sgt. Neil Moore, an aerial porter with the 25th Aerial Port Squadron (left) and Master Sgt. Johnny Montgomery, a loadmaster with the 357th Airlift Squadron review a cargo manifest during exercise Auburn Tide. The exercise was a multi-unit effort aimed at enhancing the wing’s deployment readiness. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Bradley J. Clark)

Service members prepare to load cargo on an aircraft

From left, Master Sgt. Neil Moore an aerial porter with the 25th Aerial Port Squadron, Chief Master Sgt. James Rickels, loadmaster superintendent with the 357th Airlift Squadron and Senior Airman John Marta, an aerial porter with the 25th Aerial Port Squadron inspect and prepare cargo to be loaded onto a C-130H Hercules during exercise Auburn Tide. The exercise was a multi-unit effort aimed at enhancing the wing’s deployment readiness. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Bradley J. Clark)

service members load cargo on an aircraft

Senior Master Sgt. Kelvin Pettus, a loadmaster with the 357th Airlift Squadron (left), and Tech. Sgt. Gary Broaden, Moore an aerial porter with the 25th Aerial Port Squadron, guide a forklift bearing cargo in preparation for a tactical air drop mission during exercise Auburn Tide. The exercise was a multi-unit effort aimed at enhancing the wing’s deployment readiness. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Bradley J. Clark)

service members load cargo on an aircraft

Loadmasters from the 357th Airlift Squadron and aerial porters with the 25th Aerial Port Squadron load cargo onto a C-130H Hercules during exercise Auburn Tide. The exercise was a multi-unit effort aimed at enhancing the wing’s deployment readiness. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Bradley J. Clark)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

Members of the 357th Airlift Squadron took part in a few tactical air drops as part of a monthly tactical flying week that happened to take place during a wing-wide exercise named Auburn Tide here in late March.

The exercise is intended to demonstrate the 908th Airlift Wing’s pre-deployment readiness while sharpening the skills of 908th Airmen in the weeks leading up to the largest deployment in the wing’s history.

Loadmasters with the 357th AS rigged and loaded heavy equipment bundles onto several aircraft which were then dropped over a predetermined location. These drops simulated the way supplies are delivered to service members in deployed locations across the globe.

Loadmasters are responsible for properly placing both cargo and personnel on the aircraft before flight. Calculating proper weight distribution and securely fastening equipment are all considerations a loadmaster must make before the aircraft can safely take off.

The exercise required cooperation on the part of several units in order to successfully prepare, drop and recover the bundles. Airmen from the 25th Aerial Port Squadron have a hand in securing and recovering the drops, 357th AS navigators determine the time and location of the drops and 357th loadmasters ensure the cargo is safely and properly loaded and placed on the aircraft.

“When we train like this, we just drop sandbags but we’re actually simulating mission critical supplies,” said Senior Airman Wyatt Slayton, a loadmaster with the 357th AS. “In a combat situation, we need to get those to troops down on the ground, so this training is really important.”

The 357th AS plays an integral part in the 908th’s tactical airlift mission and demonstrated its readiness throughout the course of this exercise. Auburn Tide concluded after a week and served to enhance mission readiness as the wing gears up for its biggest deployment to date.