Moody emerges future leaders

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Joseph Fraser
  • 23d Communications Squadron

Twenty Airmen from Moody Air Force Base spent another day developing themselves to become more courageous leaders through Moody’s new innovative program, Emerge Moody, Dec. 1, here

During this month’s journey, we spent time with the 23d Fighter Group gaining a deeper understanding of what it takes to get pilots in the air. From mission planning, air field management, and air traffic control, we learned not a second is lost ensuring the pilot’s safety and mission success.

Our day started with what was called a “mass brief”. This is a pilot ritual, which any pilot flying that day must be in attendance for because of its importance to the mission and team safety.

Shortly after concluding the briefing the pilots moved on to get physically prepped for their flights. Our class of Emerge Moody Airmen quickly realized that the preparation of a pilot is extremely quick, and there is no time to waste. The pilots hurriedly moved from mass brief all the way up until launch with numerous boxes to check along the way. A pilot’s renowned extensive training was very evident as we explained to each other how much goes in to their day yet how seamless a pilot can make it appear. This is why most of us had made the assumption that a pilot “just flys” because of how seamless operations can appear.

Shortly after the mass briefing, our team reconvened to receive another in-depth experience of what it takes to be a pilot. Capt. James Knauss III, an Emerge Moody member and A-10 pilot, delivered a full Close Air Support tactical briefing to the Airmen. With a grin, Knauss stated, “pilots don’t just fly”. We anticipated a typical briefing as Knauss handed out some example documents for us to track as he briefed. However, our class did not know how intense this briefing was going to be.

Immediately after beginning his rapid delivery of “tactical pilot jargon” we were all in awe and amazement. Most of us had no clue what was happening. Luckily, Capt. David Melear, Emerge Moody member, had a few ounces of humility to stop Knauss because he could not keep up, but he was not the only one.

“Wait, wait, where are you at right now,” said Melear. With a little comic relief, Knauss explained what was happening as well as the importance of why it was so expeditious. It was like something from a movie, but this was in real-time. It was very evident why our pilots are the best.

Once the pilots stepped and launched out, we then changed our mindsets to receive briefings from a few base operations sections to include weather and air field management.

“If it is on the runway, it has a meaning and we manage it” said Master Sgt. Erik Naegeli, 23d Operations Support Squadron Emerge Moody briefer.

As we continued our tour around the airfield amidst the “controlled chaos” of an active airfield, it was very impressive to see the behind the scenes footage of the airfield operating from the use of controlled areas to radio etiquette which ensured unified operations.

Our experience didn’t halt here. We continued our familiarity, with what most of them would jokingly believe, to becoming fully qualified A-10 pilots and took the handle to fly in the A-10 simulators.

Fortunately, there were actual pilots there to assist because the simulators are as real as it gets without leaving the ground. We all had a great time taking off, strafing, and landing an A-10. This experience gave us a real-life look in to what it takes to control an actual aircraft from throttling up, obtaining specific speeds, and adjusting flaps to safely land.  

While flying the simulators, most of us couldn’t help but to notice the other aircraft in the air as a few of the Airmen attempted to dogfight with them. After the simulators we then moved on to the Air Traffic Control Tower and Radar Approach Control facility to gain a better insight to what it takes to control all this aerial traffic.

Just as you may have imagined it is very impressive. There are a lot of moving parts in this operation that cannot be touched, talk about stressful. These controllers have to ensure they are at the pinnacle of their game every waking second of controlling. With a slight hesitation and a peeped brow, Staff Sgt. Carl Cauley. Emerge Moody member asked, “You guys have to monitor all of this and say it exactly like that?” It was that impressive to see how much attention to detail is required every single day to ensure airfield operations.

At the conclusion of our day we were afforded the opportunity to hear from, Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Deale, the Director of Operations, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. He provided us with some words of encouragement on our accomplishments with being selected for the Emerge Moody team and the impact it has on deliberately developing us as leaders.  Shortly before departing, General Deale opened the floor to any questions. Second Lt. Ryan Noblin addressed one of Col. Kunkel’s priorities of caring for Airmen by asking, “What is the Air Force doing to improve quality of life to retain Airmen.” General Deale provided a very insightful answer, and mentored us on the importance of caring for Airmen and their quality of life.    

The Emerge Moody class gained a profound insight in to the internal dynamics of the 23d Fighter Groups part in Moody’s mission: Attack, Rescue, and Prevail to Win Today’s Fight.