Polish Air Force Flies in Red Flag for First Time
They boarded a C-130 Hercules and made the flight across the Atlantic Ocean to a place where the local language isn't their own native tongue. This isn't your normal U.S. Air Force deployment scenario, but the experience of a Polish air force crew participating in Red Flag-Alaska.
Red Flag is a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored, Joint National Training Capability-accredited exercise. The goal of Red Flag-Alaska is to provide each aircrew with vital training missions, increasing their chances of survival in combat environments.
This year's exercise hosted multiple firsts for the Polish air force representatives. It is not only the first time they have participated in Red Flag, but also the first time a Polish crew on a C-130 crossed the North Atlantic to the East Coast and from there to Alaska.
"I expect to get training in flying in the mountainous areas ... and to make good friends with United States, Japanese, Australian and German air forces," said Polish Air Force Maj. Jaroslaw Gozdalski, the C-130 Hercules pilot and commander.
According to Polish Air Force Capt. Slawomir Lis, the C-130 navigator, similar terrain, with mountains and valleys, makes Alaska the perfect place for the C-130 crew to practice for their mission they have in Afghanistan.
"For me, it's a completely new experience, flying in the tall mountains of Alaska," Lis said.
Flying isn't the only skill that was enhanced at Red Flag.
"We fly around the world and everything is in English, but that isn't our first language, so it is also good language training," Gozdalski said.
Another side of the training the Polish airmen received was to work with equipment they normally wouldn't get to operate.
"This was the first opportunity to check our RVR (runway visual range) system and mark system in real situations because the ranges are equipped with emitters that simulate real threats and this is the first time we can use this equipment and see how it works against the real threat," Gozdalski said.
They were also able to practice maneuvers to try to evade simulated ground to air missiles all while sharing the air space with the U.S., German, Japanese and Australian forces.
"A lot of aircraft flying together and not crashing is a very difficult thing to do," Gozdalski said.
The different countries participating in Red Flag gave countries an opportunity to train with a group they may never have had the chance to train with before. "I am very happy to have the experience of flying in groups from different countries, different languages and different procedures," Lis said.
"The best thing about Red Flag is the experience gained and seeing the different ways of looking at things," said Polish Air Force 1st Lt. Tomasz Kozlowski, C-130 co-pilot.
Source: By Staff Sgt. Zachary Wolf / Red Flag-Alaska Public Affairs / AFNS / EIELSON AFB, Alaska, 19 June 2012 - Press agency News
Photo: The Polish Air Force C-130E Hercules (Photo by USAAF)