A total of six U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II aircraft and seven crews from the 67th Special Operations Squadron, which falls under the 352nd Special Operations Wing at RAF Mildenhall, came together over a four-day period to conduct a conduct MC130J rodeo competition July 8 – 11, 2019. An Air Commando rodeo is a competition between aircrews to test their ability to execute a mission both accurately and expeditiously.
The seven crews each consisted of pilots, combat systems officers and loadmasters from the 67th SOS. Each were evaluated on their performance in events such as precision landings, vehicle infiltration/exfiltration, accuracy of equipment airdrops, tactical offload and low-level flight. The winning crew was coined “Top MC130J aircrew” by a panel of judges.
“Crews will be judged on objectives such as hitting targets on time, dropping equipment on time, and getting as close to the point of impact as possible,” said a pilot with the 67th SOS, who acted as a judge during the event. “We have judges flying on the aircraft and judges on the ground. They’re going to assess performance and give out awards at the end of the week.”
The 67th SOS operates the MC-130J Commando II to provide precise, reliable, flexible and responsive specialized air mobility. The unit also provides worldwide special operations support in austere, hostile, denied and/or politically sensitive territory. The crews conduct single or multi-ship infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces via airdrop and air land operations, and conduct long-range refueling operations of SOF assets.
Rodeos within the 352nd SOW enhance teamwork skills between the unit members as well as provides additional training for competitors.
“The rodeo allows the aircrew members to come together. Through competition, everyone wants to be better, and it’s also a great way of building teamwork and camaraderie,” said a U.S. Air Force Major with the 67th SOS.
The events challenged participants to meet time and accuracy objectives. Failing to meet expectations resulted in lost points.
“The competition pushed people to perform their best in the airplane to a standard that is very high,” said a Master Sgt. with the 67th SOS. “That’s the objective of this rodeo.”
The biggest winner is the squadron itself. The information gleaned from each crew’s performance during the event will result in improvements to how MC-130J crews carry out similar real-world operations.
“The takeaways from this event will not just be useful internally to the 67th. The lessons and skills sets learned from this week will carry on with these individuals throughout their career. There’s never a perfect flight. You’re always going to strive to hit that perfect time on target or a perfect drop score all the time,” said the Master Sgt. “Nevertheless, everyone learned something from this competition that will benefit themselves, the MC-130J community and AFSOC.”
Story by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron, 352nd Special Operations Wing, US Air Force / Originally published July 18, 2019