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NEWS | May 18, 2011

JB CHS-WS FLETC course opened for motorcycle training

By Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Brannon Deugan Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs Office

Joint Base Charleston 628th Air Base Wing Safety Office offered the practical riders' motorcycle operation and mentorship training at JB CHS-Weapons Station, May 14 and 15.

The training, held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center pursuit training course, instructed more than 20 personnel on safety hazards and helped develop and improve riding skills while operating a motorcycle at high speeds.

"The practical riders' motorcycle operation and mentorship training day is an avenue for riders to gain confidence on their bikes," said Master Sgt. Robert Carman, 628 ABW traffic safety manager. "This environment allows riders to advance their skills while testing their limits and the limits of their bikes at highway speeds but in a controlled environment."

The FLETC course, a 1.5 mile course with 11 turns, challenges the ability of riders and provides fundamental, high-practice based training on motorcycles. This training is not offered in the mandated riding certification courses and can be dangerous to practice on busy highways without proper instruction.

"Riding today on this course has allowed me to exercise my riding skills in a safe environment, which allowed me to practice turns at highway speeds, which increased my confidence level," said Electronics Technician 1st Class Scott Rothfusz, a participant and the motorcycle safety coordinator for Nuclear Power Training Unit.

"In certification riding courses students learn techniques, but there is no chance to truly practice those techniques during the course," he said. "Riders who attend training like this can practice techniques while receiving feedback from the instructors."

According to Sergeant Carman, the riders are divided into three separate groups: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each group rides with an instructor for 20 minutes then rests during the other group's session. While resting, instructors hold a group discussion, and go over techniques to help improve riding habits for increased safety.

"This is not a track day where motorcyclist can go as fast as possible, this is a training day that expands education on safety and bike bonding," Sergeant Carman said. "Bike bonding is learning everything about your bike, such as how it handles in different types of turns."

"It is important for riders to learn their bikes," said Sergeant Carman. "If the rider knows the limits of their bike and their own personal limits then they will be able to maintain proper safety when operating around cars and other dangers that are not present with this course."

The course had a lot to offer even for experienced riders, said Marine Sgt. Daniel Sloniker, stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. He participated in the training day even though he has 10 years of motorcycle experience.

"It is a lot of fun to ride on a track because out here I can relax and focus on improving my riding," said Sergeant Sloniker. "I've been able to better understand my bike and practice techniques that I would not dare to attempt in traffic until I've built-up my confidence on that skill."

The month of May is motorcycle safety awareness month, and safety was the main focus of the day. The emphasis of safety on the FLETC track was related to possible daily driving situations. The rules and regulations for motorcycle safety for military personnel are to ensure riders are continuously using safety precautions while operating motorcycles.

"The military is not joking around with motorcycle safety," said ET1 Rothfusz. "The Navy, Air Force, Army and Marines all want their service members safe so they can not only perform their duties well, but also enjoy their off-duty hobbies."