by Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
12/4/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Airmen
grasp for the linings of their inner pockets, attempting to shield any
exposed skin from the white, chilled needles falling from the colorless,
"Wind just hit three knots; it's looking good," one said to the other with an optimistic smile. "It should be here soon."
Like a well-rehearsed play, a faint growl arose from above the low-hanging clouds. "There it is!"
A military cargo plane emerged and as it passed, parachutes gracefully
descended, possibly containing food, water, or clothing--hope to those
While this time it was only training bundles that landed for those
Airmen, the drop zone at U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr, Germany, is
where the 37th Airlift Squadron goes to practice and inspect airdrop
capabilities to ensure the success of real-world missions.
"During the winter we have to fly higher to avoid any obstruction in the
air which requires a larger drop zone," said Capt. Eric Liard, 37th AS
pilot. "Grafenwoehr is perfect because it has one of the largest drop
zones in Germany which gives pilots and loadmasters flexibility to work
on our skills year-round."
Conducting airdrops is a way for cargo or paratroopers to drop out of
the back of an aircraft and parachute on an area. This eliminates the
need for a runway since the aircraft doesn't need to land, which is
ideal when a delivery needs to be made in a hostile area.
However, providing this capability requires the 37th AS Airmen to be
up-to-date with their certifications which can be challenging due to
Germany's flight restrictions.
"We are required to fly higher during our low level operations in
Germany compared to the U.S. and other parts of Europe," said Capt.
Bryce Johnson, 37th AS pilot. "We are also unable to train during quiet
hours which are from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., weekends and during holidays.
Even though our time in air is limited, we do have another way to stay
current with our training."
Ramstein Air Base, Germany holds the only U.S. C-130J Super Hercules
simulator located in Europe, allowing the Airmen to practice flying
"Having this asset is phenomenal for the C-130 community here," Johnson
said. "It allows us to do additional training we can't always accomplish
in the local area, as well as save fuel and carbon emissions over the
lifetime of the simulator."
Taking advantage of these resources allows the 37th AS team an ample
opportunity to grow in their skills, as well as help develop neighboring
"Training like we do gives us the credibility to work with our European
allies and build our partner's capacity," Liard said. "By training
together we solidify our skills to deliver hope in real time, all the
Through sun, rain, snow or sleet, the 37th AS Airmen strive to better
themselves and work with their allies to deliver more than just
supplies, but hope to those in need around the world.