LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Texas summers get hot—like, really hot.
So hot that Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ weather flight is predicting extreme maximum temperatures of over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s the kind of heat that makes working out on the flightline objectively uncomfortable for many.
However, beginning this year, the 47th Mission Support Group logistics readiness flight has prepared Laughlin’s aviators and flightline workers with a much-requested flightline amenity—air conditioned and spacious flightline shuttles.
“We have three of the new climate controlled vehicles,” said David Farrell, 47th LRF deputy director of logistics. “Each vehicle can transport up to fourteen aircrew at a time, and the shuttles operate, continuously supporting the flying schedule.”
The new vehicles replace Laughlin’s old cargo, “bread truck” style vehicles picking up and dropping off aircrew across the flightline. While featuring seating for fourteen aircrew and climate control, they also sport extra legroom, storage for flight equipment, and extra safety and comfort features that are head and shoulders over the predecessor vehicle’s open air, converted bench style seating.
“Our biggest objective was making it safer for the pilots,” said Maj. Delwyn Campo, 47th LRF commander. “Even though they aren’t in the vehicle for too long, it still gets very hot outside, and even hotter on the flightline. It’s as safe and comfortable as we can make it for our aircrew, and I think that’s better for the pilots.”
The brand new vehicles, while not the first across the specialized undergraduate pilot training bases, feature amenities not available on other flightline transportation vehicles. The extra features are part of a future-proofing effort to help support rising ops-tempos and an influx of student pilots in the coming years.
“We are only increasing sorties, so we’re going to have more and more people we’re transporting,” said Campo. “The old vehicles may have worked now, but down the road, as Air Education and Training Command as a whole looks to increase sorties, this is the right move. We’re leaning forward and posturing ourselves to accommodate the workflow and the new pilots.”
The upgrades were brought about due to feedback and requests to improve the flightline transportation system. With the feedback in hand, the 47 LRF worked immediately with their contractors and mission partners to provide an improved service that both Farrell and Campo are excited to provide for the 47th Flying Training Wing.
“At the end of the day, we are here for the customer,” said Campo. “We are a customer based organization, so when people bring up these issues, we actively try to do something to fix it—even if we can’t do it quickly. We listen to the customers and encourage them to think of ideas on how we can provide better service, and this is an example of it.”