HomeNewsFeaturesDisplay

22nd OG keeps McConnell’s air operations flying

Senior Airman Robert Vojtkofsky, left, and Senior Airman Briant Bell, both 22nd Operation Support Squadron air traffic controllers, work the air traffic control tower Jan. 18. Air traffic controllers here monitor aircraft in order to prevent accidents. They direct the movement of aircraft into and out of McConnell’s airfield. They track aircraft by radar and relay information to aircrews via radio. They relay flight and landing instructions, weather reports and safety information to pilots.

Senior Airman Robert Vojtkofsky, left, and Senior Airman Briant Bell, both 22nd Operation Support Squadron air traffic controllers, work the air traffic control tower Jan. 18. Air traffic controllers here monitor aircraft in order to prevent accidents. They direct the movement of aircraft into and out of McConnell’s airfield. They track aircraft by radar and relay information to aircrews via radio. They relay flight and landing instructions, weather reports and safety information to pilots.

Senior Airman Briant Bell, 22nd Operation Support Squadron air traffic controller, works the air traffic control tower Jan. 18. Air traffic controllers here monitor aircraft in order to prevent accidents. They direct the movement of aircraft into and out of McConnell’s airfield. They track aircraft by radar and relay information to aircrews via radio. They relay flight and landing instructions, weather reports and safety information to pilots.

Senior Airman Briant Bell, 22nd Operation Support Squadron air traffic controller, works the air traffic control tower Jan. 18. Air traffic controllers here monitor aircraft in order to prevent accidents. They direct the movement of aircraft into and out of McConnell’s airfield. They track aircraft by radar and relay information to aircrews via radio. They relay flight and landing instructions, weather reports and safety information to pilots.

First Lt. Adam Dalson, left, a 349th Air Refueling Squadron pilot, and 1st Lt. John Gruenke, a 349th ARS navigator, review charts and maps, Jan. 19, to plan for an upcoming flying mission. (Photo by Master Sgt. Darlene Foote, 22nd ARW Public Affairs)

First Lt. Adam Dalson, left, a 349th Air Refueling Squadron pilot, and 1st Lt. John Gruenke, a 349th ARS navigator, review charts and maps, Jan. 19, to plan for an upcoming flying mission. (Photo by Master Sgt. Darlene Foote, 22nd ARW Public Affairs)

Mike Murphy, a civilian contractor with the 349th ARS, prepares a deployable mission planning kit Jan. 19. Each kit contains a lap top computer, a printer, electronic charts and programs for pilots. (Photo by Master Sgt. Darlene Foote, 22nd ARW Public Affairs)

Mike Murphy, a civilian contractor with the 349th ARS, prepares a deployable mission planning kit Jan. 19. Each kit contains a lap top computer, a printer, electronic charts and programs for pilots. (Photo by Master Sgt. Darlene Foote, 22nd ARW Public Affairs)

Maj. Max Bremer and Capt. Aaron Torczynski, 22nd Operations Group pilots, perform a pre-flight check on a KC-135 Wednesday. During a pre-flight check, aircrew members test aircraft equipment to ensure it is functioning properly. (Photo by Senior Airman Jamie Train, 22nd Communications Squadron)

Maj. Max Bremer and Capt. Aaron Torczynski, 22nd Operations Group pilots, perform a pre-flight check on a KC-135 Wednesday. During a pre-flight check, aircrew members test aircraft equipment to ensure it is functioning properly. (Photo by Senior Airman Jamie Train, 22nd Communications Squadron)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The 22nd Operations Group, which supervises operations in support of strategic force projection and mobility, special operations, tactical air operations and humanitarian assistance efforts worldwide through its fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers, is a dynamic and diverse organization that sets it apart from other tanker units.

The Group consists of the 344th, 349th, 350th and 384th Air Refueling Squadrons, as well as the 22nd Operations Support Squadron which provides air traffic control, intelligence, combat crew communication, base weather service, mission scheduling, planning and combat tactics.

According to Maj. Jim Beyer, assistant director of operations, 349th ARS, some of those things that make the group unique include being the only base that has receiver capable KC-135s, responsibility for the busiest airspace in Air Mobility Command, their Special Operations Air Refueling mission and their central location in the United States which makes them ideally suited to support nearly every receiver aircraft in the Department of Defense.

"When it comes down to it, the thing that really makes us stand out is that we have some of the greatest people in the Air Force in terms of talent and dedication," said Major Beyer who has been in the Air Force for more than 10 years and at McConnell for 15 months.

The group continually strives to improve its combat readiness and is working diligently to develop methods to not only improve the wing but also the Air Force, said the major, who serves as the Group's Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st century representative.

"In light of AFSO 21, the 22nd OG is re-examining its programs and processes in order to cut out all the waste and remove anything that does not add value." According to Major Beyer, they have identified several areas for improvement and even already experienced success in some of them. "One of the keys for us will be using the simulators more," he said.

An in-depth look at simulator scheduling tracking and possible scheduling deficiencies resulted in better use of the simulator and a reduction in lost man hours as a result of no-show events. Additionally, the group took on the challenge of aviation fuel conservation. "We have been charged with reducing aviation fuel consumption by 10 percent a year over the next three years," said Major Beyer.

"Over the last 10 years, the Air Force has invested a lot of money and effort into upgrading simulators so we need to shift our mindset and accomplish as much as possible through simulator training," said Major Beyer.

Although, this may not be an easy paradigm shift, according to the major, it will yield great benefits for all involved. "The bottom line is this initiative will save a lot of money by reducing fuel consumption, maintenance cost and may even reduce fatigue on the aircraft, enabling it to last longer," he said.

The 22nd OG is also involved with many other AFSO 21 initiatives, such as creating a local "dispatch staff" for aircrews that will handle every aspect of flight planning and allow the crews to focus on flying the mission and training.

"We are encouraging every Airman, whether a part of the 22nd Operations Group or not, who sees a way to do something better or smarter to share their ideas. For 22nd OG members, all it takes is a simple e-mail to 22og.afso21@mcconnell.af.mil and the idea will be thoroughly evaluated." said the major.

"I am very proud of the Airmen of the 22nd Operations Group," said Col. Ray LaMarche, 22nd OG commander. "They are embracing the challenge of re-tooling our processes and procedures to make them more efficient and effective. We are taking every opportunity to forge a new course ahead as our force recapitalizes itself and continues to evolve into a more relevant and dominant force."