JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WASH. –
Aerial port crews competed in the first Air Mobility Rodeo 2011 pallet build-up contest, July 26, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to simulate the high-stress environment of a deployed location.
A total of 25 Rodeo teams are scheduled to compete. The cargo for the pallet built in the competition was made up of various pre-determined items by event organizers.
The umpires managing the competition trained each team to complete the event within the parameters they briefed, said Rene Emondt, the event coordinator from the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron. The teams had to follow established safety procedures and finish the pallets as best and as fast as they could.
"Any time you have a time crunch it can be extremely stressful, whether competing against the clock or making sure troops are getting the supplies they need on time," said Staff Sgt. Mark Robertson, a participant representing the 62nd APS. "Building pallets is a tough job. It's like building a complex structure without instructions."
Tech. Sgt. Kory Aschenbrenner, Air Mobility Command cargo policy manager, said building pallets is the "bread and butter of the aerial port structure."
"Every mobility air frame carries pallets, and it is our method of getting supplies to the warfighter," he said. "We do training like this event to ensure we are maxing out each pallet's utilization. It not only minimizes the amount of missions being flown, but it also saves on fuel and man hours, saving the Air Force millions of dollars each year."
Though international teams are not competing in this event, nearly all the teams witnessed and filmed the competition.
"We are looking forward for international crews to participate in the next Rodeo's pallet build up," Aschenbrenner said. "This competition is here to stay and I'm sure we will learn something from our foreign friends."
Rodeo is a biennial international competition that focuses on mission readiness, featuring airdrops, aerial refueling and other events that showcase the skills of mobility crews from around the world.