372nd TRS, Det 8: providing technical expertise and superior airmanship

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kenneth Shinn
  • 372nd Training Squadron

Unit: Field Training Detachment (FTD) 8, 372d Training Squadron

Location: Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota

Mission: Provide technical expertise and superior airmanship to today’s warriors supporting the Air Force’s ability to provide expeditionary combat power anywhere on the globe.

Vision: To be the provider of choice for all customers requiring advanced B-1 aircraft and Aerospace Ground Equipment training

Staff: 19

What We Do:

“Our mission at Ellsworth Air Force Base is to provide the capability for 28th Operations Group to perform B-1B training sorties that resemble real world combat missions at the largest training airspace over the continental United States.  The Powder River Training Complex (PRTC) is roughly the size of the state of Indiana and attracts air forces from many nations to hone their combat capability with the United States Air Force as their guide” explained he Detachment Chief for 208, Senior Master Sgt. Shane Newsom

Senior Master Sgt. Newsom further stated, “To provide that capability, maintainers work tirelessly throughout the night to ensure the next day’s fliers meet or exceed the aircrew’s needs and expectations.  The B-1B Lancer is a difficult aircraft to maintain and technicians require years of experience to perform this task adequately.”   This experience is supplemented by the residing experts located in the 372d Training Squadron’s Detachment 8, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota.  Housed within Det 8 are 10 AFSCs with three unique capabilities.  Det 8’s Production Superintendent, Master Sgt. Donald Brogan, said, “TDY students come from several host units throughout the United States to receive instruction on Aerospace Repair (A/R), Aircraft Fuel, and Hydraulic Systems.” 

Tech. Sgt. Jason Gowen is the A/R Instructor and Trainer Manager at Det 8.  He noted, “Aside from the normal Simulated Maintenance and Armament Trainers, Det 8 has the ONLY Primary/Secondary Flight Control Trainer within the B-1B community.  This trainer provides a unique perspective of the complex B-1B flight control system and allows students to perform various tasks to familiarize themselves with its operation.”  Of the $1.89M contract allocated to trainer maintenance, the Flight Control Trainer consumes nearly $717K of those funds.  Tech. Sgt. Gowen added, “For the technicians that use it, however, its value is priceless.”  Additionally, our Hydraulic Systems Instructor uses this trainer to demonstrate the various facets of flight control operations as it integrates with the other aircraft systems.

A recent development within the B-1B community is the assumption of the B-1B Aerospace Maintenance Apprentice (Able Chief) course that was formerly assigned to Sheppard AFB.  Det 8 is one of two FTDs that finish a B-1B Crew Chief’s 3-level awarding AFSC pipeline course.  This course, also known as, “Mission Ready Airman” (MRA) continues the fundamentals and B-1 training started at Sheppard.  Through hands-on training (HOT), these new crew chiefs learn to launch, recover, refuel, and inspect operational B-1B aircraft.  Once complete with their 3-level, the newly minted crew chiefs then become a part of their permanently assigned Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons to begin their 5-level upgrades.  “With each Detachment taking control of this course, we have the opportunity to provide students with early introduction to the airframe and hands on experience that was otherwise unavailable in the beginning of their enlistment,” said Senior Master Sgt. Newsom.  Master Sgt. Brogan added, “We will now be able to mold and mentor students for longer periods of time and enhance their transition to the operational Air Force.”

The instructors at Det 8 are proud of their role within the B-1B mission and our battle-tested methods have earned a Highly Effective on a recent inspection.  We continue to push for greater responsibilities and to provide the best product to the 28th Maintenance Group and other supported wings.  As we press into the future, our instructors are prepared to introduce students to the new Integrated Battle Station modification soon to become live on all aircraft within the B-1B fleet.  We are adapting our trainers to meet that demand and are more than ready to accept the associated challenges that it brings.  Tech. Sgt. Gowen said, “Every week our Detachment Chief, Senior Master Sgt. Newsom, asks us to own this small organization and make it better every day.  The instructors value this empowerment and it shows with the maintainers that walk out of our doors to provide world class combat airpower”.