NEWS | Nov. 15, 2017

USARCENT flies on the wings of ARNG and USAR Aviation

By Staff Sgt. Isolda Reyes 29th Combat Aviation Brigade

Transporting distinguished visitors, command teams and supplies across multiple locations are key missions for the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade’s fixed-wing detachments.

Tucked away on Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, is the UC-35 jet detachment operated by U.S. Army Reservists from Fort Dix, New Jersey, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and the C-12 detachment operated by Army National Guardsmen from Maine and Oregon.

“There is constant change with this job,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Destiny Pence, C-12 detachment operations non-commissioned officer from the Oregon Army National Guard. “It keeps us busy and makes time go fast.”

Although the 29th CAB has many aircraft to support their wide array of missions, they only have a few fixed-wing aircraft for passenger
transportation over great distances. The UC-35 jets and C-12 airplanes fly at faster airspeeds and at higher altitudes than Army helicopters, so they are preferred for moving service members, including senior leaders.

“We fly throughout the whole region,” said UC-35 Commander Maj. Wesley Davison. “You name it, we go there.”

Although they are separate organizations with slightly different missions, the two collocated flight detachments have learned to coordinate with each other and operate as a team. Passengers appreciate this coordination, especially when it gets them to their destinations in a timely manner.

“If he [Davison] has any last-minute issues, his first call is to us,” said Maj. William Townsend, C-12 detachment commander.

Each flight requires significant planning and coordination. For an international flight, the pilots and flight operations specialists must obtain proper diplomatic clearances. Prior to takeoff, aircrews must ensure passengers, cargo and baggage don’t exceed the aircraft’s maximum allowable weight.

“Fixed wing is a small community,” said Davison, “We share the same struggles so it is easy to help each other out.”

“Our operations sergeants work with their [UC-35] operation sergeants to de-conflict schedules and passenger movement,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Shawn McMoarn, the C-12 detachment’s operations non-commissioned officer in charge, from the Maine Army National Guard. “Schedule changes are constant, so we have to rely on each other and remain flexible.”

“We enjoy what we do here,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 William Purvis, a UC-35 pilot from Fort Bragg, North Carolina who recently surpassed 10,000 flight hours. “We fly lots of distinguished visitors, they are always on time and pleasant to work with.”

The 29th CAB’s fixed wing detachments fly approximately 500 hours a month, for approximately 350 customers, including many flag officers and distinguished visitors.

“We add to the fight by getting the decision makers to decision points,” said Davison.

Throughout the region, logistics can be challenging. It is not uncommon for UC-35 and C-12 flights to deliver high-priority cargo, including mission-critical parts and equipment to U.S. Army and other coalition forces.

“We keep other units mission ready,” said Townsend.