LOWESTOFT, SFK, UNITED KINGDOM
Story by Staff Sgt. Alex Echols
Through tumultuous wind and rain on a simulated sea, 18 Airmen pulled together to survive a realistic aircraft crash training scenario. The training, typically reserved for aircrew, provided the Airmen a glimpse into scenarios flight personnel must be able to navigate to ensure survival.
“We all play our part to support the warfighter,” said Tech. Sgt. Derek Owens, 48th Operations Support Squadron SERE NCO in-charge. “Today Airmen across the wing had an opportunity to experience a portion on how 48th Operations Group provides some of that support by receiving the same water survival training that SERE provides our aircrew.”
During the height of the course, the trainees faced the “perfect storm” scenario where their life rafts faced simulated 30-knot roaring winds, overwhelming rain, and four- to six-foot waves in pitch-black conditions.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it was awesome,” said Staff Sgt. Gaebriel Diaz, 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance technician. “I recommend everyone experience it at least once. It can even help you in day-to-day situations like if your commercial plane goes down. This training could help you survive.”
The participants also learned how to escape being trapped under a canopy, release their harness while being dragged by the wind, mount their one- and 20-man life rafts, and use several different types of survival gear.
“We are just trying to teach them different tactics, techniques and procedures that we teach to our aircrew to plan for the worst case scenario,” said Staff Sgt. Derreck Day, 48th OSS SERE specialist. “If for some reason aircrew have to punch out and are exposed to this type of environment, then they need to be able to survive if not thrive and return with honor.”
To maintain their certification, aircrew must pass Water Survival Training every three years. The SERE technicians host the course 12 times a year and are hoping to hold classes for non-aircrew members two or three times a year, according to Day.