Not your average day at the pool

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Monica Ricci
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

Pilots and aircrew from the 514th Air Mobility Wing's 76th Air Refueling Squadron, 78th Air Refueling Squadron, and 732nd Airlift Squadron spent an afternoon at the pool over the July UTA, but it wasn't your average pool party. 

The group was joined by SERE specialist Master Sgt. Zach Angel from Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, for a refresher on water survival training. The hours-long event included an informational session where Angel reminded the pilots and aircrew of the do's and don'ts of water survival. They then jumped into the pool with their uniform and gear to become familiar with the life vests and rafts that are carried on their aircraft in the event of an emergency.

"We are provided with excellent equipment and training, but in a worst case scenario survival is dependent on knowing and understanding how to use it," Capt. Kyle Mallard, a KC-10 pilot, said. "This training is invaluable because it mirrors realistic scenarios to ensure that when the worst case happens, muscle memory and our training will take over."

After jumping into the water, the dozen or so Airmen had to work together quickly to make it onto the massive raft in under five minutes. They also practiced putting up the raft's canopy, which in a real-life situation would shield the group from the powerful sun at sea.

Even if they were just in a pool, one pilot said that the afternoon of training could be the difference between life or death.

"As aircrew it's important to be familiar with the use of all survival equipment on our aircraft," KC-10 pilot Lt. Sean Ogden said. "While our publications detail the types of equipment on board and their use, water survival training provides a unique opportunity to get hands-on experience with that equipment that could potentially save lives in the event of a water landing."