OCTOBER 27, 2021 – When thinking of the Air Force, one’s mind tends to immediately shift to pilots, aircraft and air dominance. However, without a safe, operational airfield, unrivaled combat airpower would stay grounded on the Tyndall flight line.
The Airmen of the 325th Operations Support Squadron airfield management flight are a part of the foundation of total air dominance.
Tyndall is home to the Weapons System Evaluation Program East and Checkered Flag, both Department of Defense exercises held regularly to ensure DoD assets are prepared for real-world contingency operations.
“Airfield management is essential to WSEP mainly because we keep the airfield environment safe,” said Staff Sgt. William Terry, 325th OSS airfield management operations supervisor.
“So [the Air Force] is not [having] to repair an aircraft after a bird strike or because of damaged tires, we do daily airfield inspections.”
The general demands of the airfield range from something as simple as measuring the length of the grass to maintaining flight plans, runways and emergency response procedures. Hosting exercises can see more than 70 aircraft visit the installation, bringing a change of pace for airfield management.
“My favorite part about hosting the exercises is just that we have more activity going on around Tyndall,” said Airman 1st Class Willie Lynch-Perdomo, 325th OSS airfield management shift lead. “A normal day of operations consists of maybe 10 or 12 aircraft, but with a WSEP going on, we can have as many as 60.”
More activity on the flight line provides opportunities for airfield management Airmen to learn their trade, to master the airfield and experience what it’s like to support a mission of total air dominance as they would in a down-range environment or deployed airspace.
“It puts us out of our comfort zone,” said Terry. “We get an influx of aircraft, missions and pilots and it kind of keeps us in that deployed environment, so to speak.
We are also an emergency response unit, so should there be any in-flight emergencies, we are one of the first responders out there with the fire department and the ambulance.
While their mission is mostly personnel safety, our mission is to get the airfield operational as soon as possible.”
With 325th Fighter Wing aircraft presently flying out of Eglin AFB, Florida, due to Tyndall’s rebuild status, these exercises and evaluations help keep the flight line active and allow Airmen to keep their technical skills sharp.
Whether keeping the airfield running during large-force exercises or managing the daily tasks for transient aircraft, the 325th OSS airfield management flight ensures Tyndall is ready to project unrivaled combat airpower at a moment’s notice.
Story by Airman 1st Class Tiffany Price
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs