Walnut Ridge FD Getting Ready For Air Force Missions

WALNUT RIDGE (KAIT) In a few weeks the Air National Guard will begin night vision air crew training at the Walnut Ridge airport.

Today a C-130 was at the airport for rescue training and evaluation of the Walnut Ridge Fire Department.

The thunder of large military aircraft will soon be heard again at the airport.

Lt. Col. Louis L. Teer. "We're gonna be training students in night vision goggle landings at Walnut Ridge."

With the upcoming missions the Air Force needed to know the fire departments capabilities and response times.

The purpose for today's exercise is training for the fire department and how fast the crews could get out here from the stations downtown and here at the airport.

Once the exercise began one of the officers kept track of the time of the fire department's response.

After  the fire department had arrived. The training part of the exercise could begin.

Chief, Alan Haskins, "They wanted us out here to kind of familiarize us with the c-130 'S to show us the rescue points and fire fighting techniques and emergency shut off for these airplanes."

I asked Col. Teer why they are going to be using Walnut Ridge for this particular type of training.

Teer, "We're allowed to use this runway for national emergencies or state disasters. Its just a logical sequence to come up here and use this runway to train."

Is the size of the aircraft a problem for the department to deal with?

Haskins, "Not with the UAM coming in here they're landing 747 and MD80's almost on a daily basis to dismantle. We can handle pretty much everything in the air now right here at the airport."

Although I couldn't get an official time, the chief is pretty sure his guys passed with "flying" colors.

Initially the training will be done for the aircrew trainers.  The actual student training should commence in late September or October.