Pilots and support personnel from the 115th Fighter Wing relocated to Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin, for the month of July.
The relocation allowed fighter pilots to continue their missions and flying requirements, while the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wisconsin, completed runway repairs and maintenance.
“We needed to keep training our pilots,” said Lt. Col. John Kolberer, 176th Fighter Squadron commander. “All of our pilots need a certain number of sorties to remain proficient and qualified in the F-16.”
Had the jets stayed in Madison, the pilots would not have been able to meet the flight requirements they needed.
According to Kolberer, the pilots are familiar with the airspace near Volk Field, making it a phenomenal training location.
The move to Volk Field also opened doors for the traditional Guardsmen who usually only train one weekend per month. F-16 Fighting Falcon maintenance crews were still needed in Madison for the base’s alert jets, so the relocation opened several slots for traditional Airmen to work on the jets full-time at Volk Field.
Kolberer welcomed the traditional Airmen to the flightline.
“A lot of the traditionals we have in the Wing ó and in the Guard in general ó are way more experienced than we could ever hope to have,” Kolberer said. “They have a tremendous amount of experience so it’s good to have them working on the jets.”
From a crew chief’s perspective, the operations at Volk Field run similar to those back in Madison.
“The first two days were spent getting everything situated,” said Senior Airman Travis Jorgeson, 115th Fighter Wing crew chief. “Now we’re back to the same routine as we’d have in Madison. The only difference is the atmosphere. It’s so open here that it makes you feel like you’re on a TDY.”
Varying operation locations can be a positive experience for all.
“It’s good to take your operation on the road every now and then because it helps us simulate a deployed location,” Kolberger said. “It lets our people get used to operating in a more challenging and different environment. That just helps us in the long term, if we ever do need to go somewhere different.”