By Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden, 15th Wing Public Affairs
The JBPHH flightline is a hub of flight activity for RIMPAC 2014 and with more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel slated to participate in the exercise, the 15th Operations Support (15 OSS) Squadron Airfield Management Flight have their hands full playing host to the array of aircraft and people transiting the airfield.
Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2014, which is a biennial, multinational maritime exercise designed to foster and sustain international cooperation on the security of the world’s oceans, kicked off at JBPHH on June 26 and runs through Aug. 1.
“For RIMPAC, it’s our job in airfield management to accommodate aircraft parking for joint and multinational forces aircraft, as well as our own,” said Tech. Sgt. Bryan Masters, 15th OSS airfield management operations NCO in charge.
“We’ve had to get creative with our aircraft parking plan due to the limited amount of real estate that we have here, but we made it work.”
Masters said it has taken a staff of 10 airfield management Airmen and more than four months to set up a parking plan to accommodate all the aircraft.
During the exercise, the airfield management flight expects the ramp to see the most aircraft to participate in RIMPAC in 24 years, including F-15C Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-22 Raptors, HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, C-130J Super Hercules and a host of aircraft from visiting nations and sister services.
Masters said that due to the continuation of real-world missions, the biggest challenge for his staff has been finding space for the visiting RIMPAC aircraft while ensuring zero delay of non-exercise related missions.
“The Air Force criteria for parking and staging aircraft and equipment differ from those of our joint partners, so we have to try to work within their confines while sticking to Air Force criteria as well, and it only gets more complicated when you consider the needs of the multinational aircraft,” he said.
Additionally, to ensure more efficient helicopter operations during RIMPAC, Masters’ team designed and constructed a temporary helipad on the flightline.
“We don’t usually do this, but we wanted to streamline helicopter landing and parking operations which will also allow for better traffic flow throughout other areas of the airfield,” said Masters.
In addition to parking and placement of aircraft, the airfield management flight also oversees the airfield driving program and expects an additional 100 vehicles to be present on the airfield during RIMPAC.
More than 400 personnel have already been trained on the rules of driving on the JBPHH flightline and, in an effort to be even more engaging and proactive, members of the team visited the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) ahead of the exercise to provide flightline drivers training to Sailors before they arrived at joint base.
“Being the RIMPAC POC for the airfield is by far the busiest I’ve ever been in my 13-year career,” Masters said of the increased work load.
And the extra hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed by the airfield’s visiting units.
“The airfield management team did an excellent job on the parking plan,” said Navy Lt. j.g. Matthew Agee, a pilot assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Four.
“The helicopter pad that was made for RIMPAC works very well. The parking spots are well spaced with plenty of room between helicopters and equipment. The glint tape is especially helpful for taxiing and definitely helped to avoid confusion about where to taxi on the ramp and how to get to the departure point and back to the parking area after landing.”
“The large ‘H’ made it easy to spot the landing zone from a distance which is very helpful when operating in such a busy and unfamiliar airport. Overall, it was well planned and well executed,” Agee said.