Monday, July 21, 2014

Alamo Wing hosts Inter-American Air Forces students

by Tech Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino
433 AW

A 21-year tradition continues as 105 students from the Inter-American Air Forces Academy visited the 433rd Airlift Wing July 17 to learn about the C-5A Galaxy aircraft, the maintenance mission and how the "Alamo Wing" maintainers keep their inventory of C-5A Galaxies battle ready.

The students received toured of a C-5A static, the wing's propulsion branch, metals technology and structural repair shops.

The IAAFA students hail from Peru, Mexico, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay, Brazil and Chile.

While attending IAAFA, students receive 10 weeks of instruction in technical and academic courses, such as aircraft maintenance management in their home language of Spanish.

"I particularly enjoy it (the tour) because I understand they don't have this kind of equipment," said Senior Master Sgt. Alfonso Cervantes, a loadmaster with the 68th Airlift Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. I can see through their eyes that they are impressed by it (C-5A). The students are very excited to see the largest aircraft in the Air Force's inventory, he said.

"These trips are an incentive to show them how the Air Force works and how we do business," said Tech Sgt. Bernardo Johnson, a superintendent instructor at IAAFA. "They have never seen an aircraft with such a big tail. They only work with small aircraft. It is exciting for them to see firsthand this type of aircraft. They have only seen this aircraft on TV and in the news. They are excited to see it with their own eyes and to touch it. For the students, it is a good feeling and a good break from the classroom, " he said.

"It makes it worth our while to share what we do with these tours," Cervantes said.

The academy was founded in 1943 at Albrook Air Force Station (formally Albrook Army Field), Panama, making it the first U.S. aeronautics training course given in Latin America.

In 1989, IAAFA closed its doors at Albrook AFS , and moved to Homestead Air Force Base, Florida. In 1992, after almost a complete destruction of the facility by Hurricane Andrew, IAAFA relocated to Lackland AFB, Texas, opening its doors just under 100 days later in 1993. Today, IAAFA graduates 800 partner nation students annually, while fostering inter-Americanism and building nation partnership.

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