Inside the Gates: Loadmaster's calculations get cargo off the ground
In order for the military to haul large cargo throughout Alaska and anywhere in the world, the size of the load is handled by loadmasters.
"This is our wheelhouse in the back of the airplane," said Master Sgt. Ryan Conti with the Alaska Air National Guard's 211th Rescue Squadron.
It's because of loadmasters that helicopters, SUVs, heavy cargo and people can be stuffed into a plane and shipped around the globe.
"In order for an aircraft to fly properly in the air it has to be in balance." Conti said. "That's part of our job, making sure that we put equipment and weights distributed evenly throughout the aircraft that way it can take off and maintain flight and fly efficiently."
Extensive coordination goes into planning any flight, especially when transporting people and supplies. Conti said if there's too much in the front or back, there's a possibility the plane could fly through the air nose high or low, or even tilt side to side.
This week the Alaska Air National Guard conducted a weekly training mission in order to always stay prepared.
"It's good training all around for basically everybody involved is getting something out of it," said Maj. Kevin Kelly.
Repeated loading and unloading is only part of a loadmaster's job. Once in the air, they keep a close eye on where the drop zone is. They'll also wear restraints which lock into the aircraft's deck and allows them to maneuver throughout the back of the aircraft while the door is open.
Loadmasters also help with mid-air refueling, keep their eyes on the ground during search and rescue missions and are lookouts during combat situations.
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