Phantom relocation provides innovative training opportunity

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode
  • 115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Approximately six months ago, the topic was brought up. Could the 115th Fighter Wing help a local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 move an F-4S Phantom II static display from Indiana to Wisconsin?

After multiple discussions, PowerPoint presentations and meetings with his leadership, Senior Master Sgt. Dave Dahlke, 115 FW maintenance squadron structures, was authorized to put his plans into action. He could use this transport opportunity as a training exercise for his Airmen. That's exactly what he did.

"I had been working hand-in-hand with Col. Hamilton to see how we could put this together and how we could pull it off," Dahlke said. "Then it came to me. We could use it as a training exercise."

Dahlke focused on the training piece from a crash recovery team standpoint.

"There are three brand new team chiefs out there who needed to have a hands-on training on an instructional aircraft or a real-world aircraft every two years to be qualified," he said. "This fit the bill for three brand new team chiefs as well as the remainder of the crew out there. They need to be certified every three years, so the timing couldn't have been more perfect."

Once Dahlke was given the final go-ahead, he had approximately two weeks to pull everything together.

"Luckily I had already been planning," Dahlke said. "Once I was given the go-ahead, I just called everyone up and put the plan into action."

He had already coordinated several local companies in the Madison, Wisconsin, area and others from the Camp Atterbury, Indiana, area to help out. The volunteers were abundant.

"We had a lot of volunteers and companies who gave us huge price breaks," Dahlke said. "We couldn't have gotten the work done without their help."

The crew departed Madison, Wisconsin, on Sept. 14. By Sept. 20, there were several people at the VFW waiting to welcome the jet to its new home.

"This was really an unprecedented training exercise for us primarily because of the community involvement that we're doing with this aircraft," said Col. Donald Hamilton, 115 FW maintenance group commander.

Hamilton was at the ceremony that welcomed the aircraft to Wisconsin.

"This is a great day," he said. "We not only had an opportunity to take some of our fine maintainers and accomplish some of our training goals, we also had a chance to give a little bit back to the community in which we serve every day."