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201 AS Crew conducts training during Congress' recess

Staff Sgt. Ashley Nieves services Space-A passengers during the Off Station Training mission from Naval Air Station Rota, Spain to Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 6, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech.Sgt. Tyrell Heaton)

Staff Sgt. Ashley Nieves services Space-A passengers during the Off Station Training mission from Naval Air Station Rota, Spain to Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 6, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech.Sgt. Tyrell Heaton)

7 Jan. 2011 -- Joint Base Andrews, Md. -- The 201st Airlift Squadron conducted an Off Station Training (OST) mission with a C-40 crew to and from Naval Air Station Rota, Spain January 4 to 6, 2011.

With Congress being away on recess the OST enabled pilots and flight attendants to meet their requirements and allow for upgrade training.

Not only did the crew perform upgrade training and check-ride evaluations, Space-A travelers were able to enjoy the comfort of the C-40 from Joint Base Andrews, Md. to Naval Air Station Rota, Spain and back.

"We haven't had many missions in the past few months with the Lame-Duck Congress and the transition of new members since the election," said Lt. Col. Ralph E. "Butch" Pisani, Assistant Director for Operations for the 201 AS. "We need passengers for our crew to do their duty; by opening up the mission to Space-A travelers we were able to perform upgrade training and check-ride evaluations for our flight attendants," he added.

This OST served as Staff Sgt. Ashley Nieves first overseas flight which enabled her to complete her initial upgrade training. Master Sgt. Beth L. Poole completed a check-ride evaluation and Master Sgt. Ramin M. Zanjani used the flight to become familiar with C-40 operations as he's transitioning from a different aircraft.

Capt. Charles J. "Chuck" Hagen, C-40 pilot with the 201 AS, also completed upgrade training.

Capt. Hagen landed in The Azores on the way to Naval Air Station Rota, Spain as Lajes Field is an option for emergency landings when crossing the Atlantic.

"We knew there would be cross-winds landing in The Azores and it's good for our crew to be familiar with the conditions and the base in case there ever is an emergency," said Lt. Col. Pisani.

Due to the critical passengers the 201st Flight Attendant serve, they have more training and duties than their commercial airline counterparts.

The 201st Airlift Squadron provides short notice worldwide transportation for the Executive Branch, Congressional Members, Department of Defense officials and high-ranking U.S. and foreign dignitaries.

"Not only do our flight attendants have to complete their upgrade training and check rides, they have to complete five schools," said Master Sgt. Larry A. Campbell, Instructor and Evaluator with the 201 AS. "Our crew attends Aircraft Fundamentals, Basic Flight Attendant, Combat Survival, and Water Survival schools as well as a civilian school in Long Beach, Calif. where they have to deal with emergencies using an aircraft mark-up simulator."

In addition to the traditional duties of a flight attendant that most of us are familiar with on commercial flights, the 201 AS Crew loads bags, shops for and prepares special meals for their VIPs, and cleans the plane.

"We meet with our contact and shop for the food they request, prepare the food to satisfy their dietary restrictions and food for special occasions," said Tech. Sgt. Shant Paloulian, 201 AS Flight Attendant. "We've had to shop for and prepare food for up to two weeks on this aircraft," he added.

The C-40 is the same aircraft that some commercial airlines use. The C-40s have been enhanced for the distinguished passengers that the 201 AS serve. Extra fuel tanks provide the C-40 with increased range so fuel stops are minimized. This aircraft, which was originally outfitted with 109 seats, has been retro-fitted to 36 business class seats, a distinguished visitor section that includes a couch and table was added and the lavatory is larger. There is also an extended galley that has additional cooler space, more ovens, a microwave, and a cappuccino machine.

Each flight attendant had his or her own instructor/evaluator for this mission; Master Sgt. Campbell, Master Sgt. Jennifer E. Bounds, and Tech Sgt. Paloulian, 201 AS Flight Attendants, were the instructors and/or evaluators for this mission. Also on this flight were two mechanics, Master Sgt. Walter R. Bounds II, and Tech. Sgt. Eric M. Bloomer, Mission Essential Ground Personnel for the 201 AS.