by Laura Mowry
412th Test Wing Public Affairs
1/10/2013 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Before
returning to flight operations, Team Edwards welcomed the new year with
the annual Back in the Saddle briefing Jan. 7, focusing on safety,
teamwork and mishap prevention.
For nearly 20 years, Back in the Saddle has helped the Edwards community
shift their focus back to safely and effectively accomplishing the
mission after spending time with friends and families during the holiday
"We at Edwards do not do normal operations. We conduct flight test and
what we do is actually very dangerous. If you let go for just a few
moments you can end up killing somebody," said Bill Koukourikos, 412th
Test Wing Flight Safety Office deputy chief. "Back in the Saddle gets
everyone back into that mode of thinking, that what we're doing is
dangerous and we better pay attention."
Unlike in the operational world, the Edwards community faces unique
challenges as they settle back into the flight test mission because the
unconventional nature of flight test lacks fixed rhythm to help
personnel re-acclimate after holiday downtime.
"It's not like a normal Air Force base where you come back from vacation
and know what's going to happen and you basically go back into your
normal rhythm. That's why everyone gets the Back in the Saddle brief and
there are also safety briefings going on within the units. It gets
people thinking about flight test, flight operations and risks so that
when they hit the road running, they're not going into it cold," said
Back in the Saddle combines mishap reviews with informational briefings to get useful information out to the workforce.
The Back in the Saddle briefing also helps mitigate risks associated
with what is known as the "January Effect," during which there is an Air
Force-wide increase in the frequency of mishaps.
"The Air Force sees a spike in mishaps throughout the month of January
and it is our job to prevent that from happening," said Koukourikos.
"I'm proud to say that we here at Edwards don't have a spike in