MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
The 908th Airlift Wing’s 25th Aerial Port Squadron recently acquired a high-line dock, which is material handling equipment, from the 76th Aerial Port Squadron assigned to the 910th Airlift Wing, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio.
The high-line dock was initially delivered August 16, 2022, by the 445th Air Lift Wing assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and was ready for use in time for the December Unit Training Assembly.
As the mission of the 908 AW is transitioning from C-130H tactical airlift to MH-139A flight training, the mission of 25 APS remains relatively the same. They are responsible for the management and movement of cargo and passengers transported on aircraft.
They make this possible by preparing air cargo and load plans, loading equipment, rigging for airdrops and much more. But as the last C-130H departed the wing in April 2022, they didn't have aircraft readily available to train and work with.
As an innovative way of thinking, Senior Master Sgt. Gary Ramey, assistant aerial port manager and Chief Master Sgt. Tracey Piel, aerial port manager assigned to 25 APS, came together and conceptualized ways for the members to continue to train and complete tasks for if and when they need to deploy.
They reached out to multiple wings to see if they had equipment that could be used to stage and simulate aircraft. Fortunately, the 76 APS was interested in giving away a high-line dock they no longer used.
After exchanging a few photos, Ramey did a temporary duty assignment up there to observe the high-line dock in person.
“The process to make this come to life was lengthy and took a lot of manpower and effort from both wings,'' said Ramey. “It took approximately seven months to coordinate the logistics, but the important thing is that old equipment isn’t going to waste.”
As of now, the 25 APS is not anticipating the highline-dock to be used for any 908th missions but can support other missions and units that may require assistance.
What is a high-line dock?
“A highline-dock is a piece of equipment simulating rolling pallets onto the back/inside of aircraft such as a C-5, C-17 or C-130,” said Ramey. “We can fit four pallets instead of just one or two that we did with next generation small loader and forklift. Having this piece of equipment gives us increased flexibility in building, prepping, and loading or unloading multiple pallets.”
The highline-dock has features that make it a vast improvement to the old method they were using. It is a steel frame with gravity roller conveyors and handrails positioned on each side of the dock and an access ladder for side-entry capability.
As opposed to web-based training, the high-line dock provides them with hands-on, team-building opportunities.
Senior Airman Chad North, an air transportation specialist with the 25 APS, expressed his appreciation.
“I believe that having the equipment has made it easier and more efficient to train and learn a hands-on portion of the job since we lost the C-130s,” he said. “It is going to be easier for me to learn how to spot a k-loader up to it and push cargo onto the highline dock.”
Why is this important?
Instead of having the high-line dock sit unutilized, passing the equipment to a sister wing exhibits interoperability and the conservation of resources and tax dollars that would have gone into purchasing a newer one.
The high-line dock that the 25 APS received will be used to sustain and improve mission readiness. It allows their personnel to work at a considerably faster rate by eliminating the step of using a forklift for loading each cargo pallet individually and onto a NGSL. This saves valuable time and enhances the movement of palletized cargo.
“I believe this helps us complete the mission because it gives us the necessary training to learn how to do our job,'' said North. “Our roles and jobs are still going to be needed at some point in time and with this high-line dock, we are receiving training on how to do it before the real mission comes.”
The 25 APS understands the value of training and seized the opportunity to hone skills and discover alternative ways to develop and deliver multi-capable Airmen and accelerate and sustain readiness.