MADISON, Wis. --
Twenty-five Wisconsin Wing members came away from a tour of the state Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing at Dane County Regional Airport - Truax Field in Madison with a new appreciation for some of the Guardsmen's missions in the air and on the ground, thanks to an aerospace education opportunity developed in cooperation between the fighter wing and Civil Air Patrol.
As the CAP members stood in awe while six F-16s lifted off Runway 36, Lt. Col. John Pietsch, executive officer of the fighter wing, told them, "That's America! Love that sound and never tire of hearing it."
The visit was coordinated by 1st Lt. Michael Koob, Air National Guard fighter pilot, and Capt. Kurt Lichtenwald, the Wisconsin Wing's assistant aerospace education officer.
Koob provided unprecedented access to the 115th's facilities, including the Vipers launch, tours of the fire and safety departments and security forces, a briefing on Air National Guard careers and pilot flight equipment, and time on an F-16 simulator.
Firefighters told the CAP members that their primary responsibility is to save the pilot and aircraft of the 115th Fighter Wing. Secondarily, they are to respond to local emergency requests.
They went on to describe the capabilities of each truck and how plans for attacking a fire changes base on the situation. The presentation included a demonstration of Foam Truck 3, equipped with a metal penetrator that enables firefighters to drill into a jet and spray water inside.
The visit to the security forces included demonstrations of training for police and military personnel working in intense, rapidly changing scenarios. The use of computer-generated images gave the CAP members a chance to use a variety of weapons and equipment in supervised training circumstances.
They were also able to get a feel for a 30-pound bullet-proof vest, night vision goggles and small arms such as those used by police and military personnel.
Koob talked about Air National Guard career opportunities and stressed the importance of a college education.
Master Sgt. Ken Schwark, aircrew flight equipment specialist, gave a flight equipment briefing that included equipment demonstrations and critical physiological considerations, such as G-forces and hypoxia. His audience gained new appreciation for the physical impact a pilot absorbs when he uses an ejection seat.
After the briefing, each member got the opportunity to fly in the F-16 simulator - a challenging experience, even for the certified pilots.
For entire story including photos, visit Civil Air Patrol's website