Perfect Landing: Developing skills in landing zone safety trainings

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tabatha Chapman
  • 86th AW PA

Are you someone who claps when the plane lands? Pilots usually get all the credit; however, there are those who ensure the landing will be safe far before the aircraft touches the ground.


Landing zone safety officers are in charge of surveying landing zones in austere environments, ensuring the appropriate measurements from above, on and below the ground are sent to pilots to inform them of ground conditions prior to landing.


While the official LZSO training program is taught at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., the 1st Combat Communication Squadron Airmen created a United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa specific course, consisting of a two-day academic review and one live LZ event.


For this training, the 86th Operations Support Squadron partnered with the 1st Combat Communications Squadron and identified the importance of adding another easily accessible airfield for LZSOs to train more frequently while minimizing costs and maximizing efficiency.


“Re-opening the Ramstein LZ allows for the 37th Airlift Squadron to provide support organically, receive training, and still execute their missions,” said Master Sgt. Bruce Zaragoza, 1st CBCS contingency airfield operations flight chief. “The event exceeded training expectations, re-qualifying three LZSOs, enabling 18 landings, and proved how important cross-wing integration is to set the theater and project airpower.”


The lesson plan was developed to assist Air Traffic Controllers, Airfield Managers and Radar Airfield & Weather Systems Specialist, amongst other career fields that have completed formal LZSO training to meet annual proficiency requirements and maintain currency. This LZSO certification provides them an opportunity to exercise multi-capable Airmen concepts.


"This program allows us to train and continue to sharpen our skills locally  while also gaining the experience needed to ensure that we are ready for real-world applications if called upon," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt.  Vincent Coleman II, 86th OSS, Air Traffic Controller Tower Watch Supervisor. "The intention is to be able to complete the mission with a minimum amount of personnel and resources, while still delivering the desired effects to the respective Combatant Commander."


In order to maintain proficiency, the program will need to be practiced annually to maintain the strict standards of the competency. LZSO's are given a huge amount of responsibility and consistent training ensures that everyone is capable of setting up a landing zone no matter the situation.


"In my experience the course provides the opportunity for Airmen to not only step outside of their usual scopes, but allow the Air Force to land aircraft almost anywhere in the world," said Staff Sgt. Hunter Crosby, 86th OSS Radar Airfield Weather Systems/Squadron Executive. "It provides a new skill set and helps define what it means to be a multi-capable Airmen."