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News | Jan. 15, 2014

612th Air Base Squadron manages arrival of historic aircraft

By U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stacy Rogers 612th Air Base Squadron

The 612th Air Base Squadron Airfield Operations has been busy this month planning the arrival of a DC-3 from the Naval Oceanographic office. The DC-3 is a propeller-driven aircraft, the majority of which were produced during the 1930s and 1940s.  The airplane will be used to conduct laser mapping operations off the coast of Honduras.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Patricia Hickman and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Destinee Bivins, both Airfield Managers assigned to the 612 ABS, have been planning the arrival of the aircraft and personnel for the last month. Hickman and Bivins worked to coordinate the arrival and ensured the personnel were aware of the processes to gain access to the airfield and created an aircraft parking plan.

Since Soto Cano has limited available ramp space, scheduling for a plane to be here for an extended period of time is difficult.

"Airfield Operations is the hub for the DC-3 crew for all flight operations," said Hickman.

The crew spent most of the morning at Airfield Operations learning how the Air Force handles day to day operations as well as how the 612th's Honduran counterparts conduct their airfield operations. When the crew arrived they were processed to receive temporary flightline passes and trained on airfield driving requirements.

Airfield Operations is responsible for filing all aircrew flights plans while here in Honduras. They coordinate with the Centro de Operaciones de la Fuerza Aerea Hondurena (COFAH) on all flight plans conducted in Honduran airspace. COFAH works with the Honduran military and the Embassy and has the right to deny any flight plan.

Fixed wing aircraft do not land at Soto Cano on a daily basis, and airfield operators will have to remain vigilant and keep a close eye on how the runway reacts to the additional stress caused by such a large airplane. The Soto Cano Fire Department also had several firefighters receive familiarization training on the DC-3, as most have never worked this type of aircraft before in their careers.

Bringing this mission to Soto Cano was a complete 612 ABS effort, but without the efforts of Airfield Operations it would have never gotten off the ground.