Kentucky Aviation Association members tour Air Guard Base

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By Master Sgt. Philip Speck, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Col. Ken Dale, commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Maintenance Group, briefs members of the Kentucky Aviation Association about the unit's mission during a tour of the Kentucky Air Guard Base in Louisville on Sept. 7, 2011. Association members are in town for a conference that ran from Sept. 7 to 9. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — More than 70 aviation professionals from across Kentucky had the opportunity to examine aircraft maintenance and flight line operations during tours at the Kentucky Air National Guard base in Louisville Sept. 7.

The tours were held in conjunction with the Kentucky Aviation Association’s annual conference, which ran through Sept. 9 in Louisville. The association is dedicated to promoting aviation and aerospace education across Kentucky, said Mark Giuffré, director of state government affairs for UPS Airlines and one of the conference organizers.

Maj. James White, a C-130 pilot in the Kentucky Air National Guard's 165th Airlift Squadron, answers questions about the the C-130 flight deck as members of the Kentucky Aviation Association tour the Kentucky Air Guard Base in Louisville on Sept. 7. The association held its annual conference in Louisville through Sept. 9. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Visitors toured a maintenance hangar, where a C-130 Hercules transport was undergoing a regularly scheduled inspection, and boarded a second aircraft to view the flight deck and cargo hold. Aircrew members and operations officers also held multiple question-and-answer sessions.

“Our members are people who work in the general aviation community, and they love planes,” Giuffré said. “For them to have the opportunity to tour the Kentucky Air National Guard, see the inside of a C-130 and talk to the men and women of the unit is really exciting.”

The tour was an eye-opening experience for many of the visitors, some of whom had little prior knowledge about the scope of the Kentucky Air Guard’s ongoing operations. The unit has deployed personnel overseas more than 3,400 times since Sept. 11, 2001, in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn, and it regularly conducts combat airlift missions in Afghanistan.

Other countries or regions in which the wing has conducted operations in the past decade include Antarctica, Bahrain, Cuba, Curacao, Djibouti, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, Guam, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

“I didn’t know that the Kentucky Air National Guard was the only Air Guard unit in the state, or anything about how much of a global reach the unit has,” said Matt Fox of the Harlan County Airport in Baxter, Ky.

Westly Westerfield of the Hopkinsville-Christian County Airport, in Hopkinsville, Ky., agreed.

“This brings our group a good insight on what the Kentucky Air National Guard does,” he said, adding, “I’ve never been inside a C-130 before, so this is pretty neat.”

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