Smooth Ride

A runway reopened Nov. 17 at Kirkuk Regional Air Base in Iraq after being offline for more than three months while a team of about 40 RED HORSE airmen, supported by Iraqi contract workers, resurfaced it. The 8,535-foot strip, designated 14/32, was milled and then covered with more than 38,000 tons of new asphalt. “The resurfacing greatly increases the safety of our crews and aircraft,” said Kirkuk airfield manager TSgt. Clint Harper, deployed from Fairchild AFB, Wash. Harper noted, for example, that airmen will no longer have to chase each heavy aircraft arriving at the busy base looking for broken asphalt. The new surface does not increase the weight-bearing capacity of the runway, but it does give controllers more flexibility with the movement of inbound and outbound traffic. Iraqi Air Force Lt. Ali Karim, a pilot trainee, and USAF Capt. Craig Morash christened the revamped runway with a ceremonial touch-and-go landing that day in a Cessna 172S Skyhawk. (Kirkuk report by MSgt. Andrew Leonhard)