Enlisted Aircrews Are “Fantastic”

Faced with a shortage of pilots and navigators to fill positions that require flying experience, Maj. Gen. Mark Solo has turned to the enlisted mobility aircrew force to fill empty seats in the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center. In his words, “They’re doing a fantastic job.” Solo revealed his “creative” billet-filling effort during a recent visit to McChord AFB, Wash., noting that the TACC, based at Scott AFB, Ill., has orchestrated an average of more than 900 planned sorties a day for the past three months. To do its work in coordinating US military air mobility demands, the center needs a certain number of flight-trained personnel, traditionally rated officers, but Soto said “in most cases I’m not getting a back fill” for the pilots and navigators who return to the cockpit to support worldwide operations or fill other “valid Air Force requirements.” To compensate for that, he said, “We can use flight engineers, loadmasters, and boom operators … to fill those vacancies.” (McChord report by Tyler Hemstreet)