This past August, the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) attended their first Red Flag exercise in almost 30 years, and S&K Aerospace (SKA) was right there in support. For most of a very hot month, a small but dedicated team provided logistical support to 96 RJAF personnel and their F-16 Fighting Falcons aircraft at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“The Jordanian guys are a group of very independent, hardworking personnel.” said Matt Hellrung, Program Manager.
Matt lead a group of habitual Red Flag SKA employees; Dan Ferrell, Tony Farnsworth, Terry Lapka, John Sims, and Richard Petty. Together, they have years of experience supporting Red Flag events for foreign air force personnel. Red Flag is an air-to-air combat training opportunity hosted by the U.S. Air Force.
Primarily, Matt and his team coordinated transportation, lodging, sustainment, and some recreational activities for the RJAF. This support freed the RJAF to focus on the Red Flag exercise and aircraft maintenance.
The mission began with Matt’s team supporting RJAF’s deployment to Las Vegas and Nellis AFB. The SKA team provided transportation for RJAF personnel arriving by military aircraft and also civilian commercial flights, on one occasion at the same time at opposite ends of town.The RJAF was lodged at the Platinum Hotel just off the Las Vegas strip. A breakfast buffet with a rotating menu was provided every day of the exercise. The Platinum’s location just off the strip provided for plenty of recreational opportunities.
Daily transportation to and from Nellis AFB was also coordinated. At Nellis AFB, the SKA team kept the RJAF hydrated with daily supply runs of water, Gatorade, and snacks; both at the pilot’s operations room and the maintenance hangar.
As for recreational activities, the SKA team arranged dinner reservations, shopping trips, and an excursion to Hoover Dam. Most of these activities and support occurred in just two and a half short weeks. Needless to say the tempo of the operations was high.
Of course, interacting with men from such a different cultural space was a unique experience. Dan Ferrell relates this story of a dad just trying to find gifts for his daughters back home in Jordan:
“In the course of providing support for the Royal Jordanian Air Force I had occasion to take the RJAF to the store to buy comfort items and gifts when there was a break in their long day at Red Flag. While waiting to return to the hotel, I was speaking with a Jordanian Warrant Officer discussing his purchases, he told me that he was the father of two twin girls and he had to buy presents for both. If the gifts were the same, the twins would be angry, and if they were very different, he would be accused of favoritism.
“As I sat there laughing with him about the dilemmas of a father, I thought that with all the pain and devastation in the Middle East and the serious missions that this man will be asked to carry out in the near future, his fears are focused on how to put a smile on his little girls’ faces. The same quest any father, of any religion, race, creed or color would pursue. And that reminded me of something that often escapes us in a 24/7 world news cycle: Humanity is everywhere, even a Wal-Mart parking lot in Las Vegas.”
With the support provided by S&K Aerospace, the RJAF experienced a successful training event and got to enjoy some of the sights and sounds of Las Vegas. SKA’s team expressed an admiration for the professionalism of the Royal Jordanian Air Force and hope to work together with them in the future.