JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The 90th Fighter Squadron hosted a first-of-its-kind immersion tour for nine Airmen with the 673d Communications Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Sept. 29, 2020.
The 90th FS’s “Dicemen” fly F-22 Raptors, one of the U.S. Air Force’s premier stealth tactical fighter aircraft. Although most Airmen on JBER don’t work hands-on with the F-22 fleet, they are integral in supporting the mission.
“The purpose of the immersion is to expose other squadrons throughout the base to operations in the 90th and the mission they’re supporting,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Miles Heater, 90th FS F-22 Raptor pilot.
The immersion kicked off with a 90th FS mission brief and overview of an F-22’s capabilities. Heater explained how the squadron supports the Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region combat alert mission, ready within minutes to launch F-22s to intercept aircraft entering Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone or potential airborne threats. An F-22’s combination of stealth, aerodynamic performance, integrated avionics system, sensor fusions and advanced weaponry are what make the jet superior to fourth-generation aircraft.
From there, the group was allowed the rare opportunity to observe the pilots’ pre-flight brief where they review their flight plan. Then, it was time to head outside to see the jets.
The nine CS Airmen had an up close and personal experience with some of the 90th’s F-22s, watching the pilots and crew chiefs meticulously perform their pre-flight checks. The engines were roaring as Heater answered the Airmen’s shouted questions.
“As comms troops, we don’t really get to go on the flight line or work with pilots directly,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ashlea Rojas, 673d CS cyber weapon system support technician. “There’s so much more that goes into flying a jet than we realized, with the pilots, the briefings and the crew chiefs. It was cool to see behind the scenes, see the jets, what the mission is and why we’re here.”
Rojas wasn’t alone in sharing her appreciation of the tour.
“We’re in an office doing our end so it was nice to actually get out there and see what they do,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Sebastian Jessee, 673d CS communication security accountant. “We can’t all be pilots, but we directly affect their mission because if we don’t do our job then they don’t fly.”
Already, a second immersion with the Dicemen took place Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, to extend the opportunity to more Airmen in the 673d CS.
“The idea is to have a system where we can send out a signup sheet and provide opportunities for any squadron to come out and see how we operate here [in the 90th],” Heater said.
“Not a lot of people get to see what our main mission is on base so if you get the opportunity, I’d definitely take it,” Jessee said.