Story by 2nd Lt. Daniel de La Fe on 02/23/2018McConnell air crews use the exercise as a development opportunity for young boom operators before they head to the Central Flight Instructor Course at Altus AFB, Oklahoma, an aerial refueling instructor training course.
"We're here to practice and train our new guys," said Tech. Sgt. Chris Yontz, 348th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator and former CFIC instructor. "Red Flag provides us with opportunities to focus on pushing our younger guys."
Senior Airman Luke Emery, a junior boom operator with the 349th ARS, normally supports McConnell's global mission set as a primary boom operator on the KC-135 Stratotanker. At Red Flag, Yontz and Emery swap roles to help develop the junior boom operator's pre-CFIC training program before he joins the course in two months.
"My goal is to get three or four more flights with him," Yontz said. "It's probably the hardest training he will have to go through as a boom."
Instructor training varies significantly from initial boom operator training, and Emery utilizes Yontz's knowledge to build upon his baseline understanding.
"Its more than going through the checklist, but understanding why' behind every process" Emery said.
Red Flag allows boom operators to see and feel the impact they have on the mission because they are attached to the whole process from beginning to end.
"It's very fast paced!" Emery said. "It's not just us; we're getting touches with every aircraft. Everything is coming together and shows you what war is really going to be like."
Red Flag is more than "just another day at the office" for McConnell crews. It provides them with the opportunity to create their own training and focus on specific aspects of their trade while enabling operational training for receivers over the Nevada Test and Training Range.