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317th AW BASH team helps make air space safer

317th AW BASH team helps make air space safer

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brett Pate, 317th Airlift Wing flight safety noncommissioned officer, aims an airsoft rifle into a field at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, May 15, 2018. Airsoft rifles are used by the 317th AW Bird/wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard team to rid C-130J Super Hercules’ hangars and flightline of birds that cause hazards to the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter)

317th AW BASH team helps make air space safer

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Schneider, 317th Airlift Wing flight safety officer, aims an airsoft rifle into the sky at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, May 15, 2018. It is required that domed-sized pellets are used when shooting at birds or wildlife to prevent damage to aircraft or the hangars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter)

317th AW BASH team helps make air space safer

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Schneider, 317th Airlift Wing flight safety officer, left, and Master Sgt. Brett Pate, 317th AW flight safety noncommissioned officer, stand next to their government issued ground safety truck at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, May 15, 2018. The months of August through October and March through May, are known as phase two for flying conditions. Phase two is when bird activity is heavier and aircraft flying are not allowed to stay in a local pattern around the base depending on the different conditions of bird activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter)

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
With the flightline open to nature, Airmen must stay on their toes to ensure the West Texas wildlife keeps off the flightline and away from the aircraft. The Bird/wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard team for the 317th Airlift Wing help to lower the risks of flying for the C-130J Super Hercules by using methods with air rifles to rid the flightline and hangars of animals.

“The BASH program is a mandated program from higher headquarters that help to mitigate bird strike incidents from occurring,” said Capt. Kyle Schneider, 317th Airlift Wing flight safety officer. “For Dyess, the BASH program is in effect during August through October, and March through May.”

These months are known as phase two for flying conditions, as other months are known as phase one.

Captain Schneider described phase one for flying conditions as normal operations and day-to-day regular activity for aircraft. During the months of phase two, bird activity is heavier and aircraft flying are not allowed to stay in a local pattern around the base depending on the different conditions of bird activity.

There are three different conditions that are categorized as low, moderate and severe. Low conditions have a low probability of hazards with normal bird activity on and above the airfield, moderate conditions have a concentration of birds in locations that represent a probable hazard to safe flying operations and require all agencies and supervisors to have increased vigilance and severe conditions have heavy concentration of birds on or immediately above the active runway.

Under the severe condition, supervisors and aircrew have to thoroughly evaluate mission needs before conducting operations within the area.

During the month of April there were reports of 15 bird strikes to the C-130Js.

The 317th AW safety office was to able receive two new airsoft rifles to help get rid of birds that cause hazards for the aircraft and flying operations.

“We received the .177 caliber which is required to be used inside hangars and the .22 caliber is used for the outside,” said Master Sgt. Brett Pate, 317th AW flight safety noncommissioned officer. “We are required to use dome-shaped pellets due to the fact that pointed pellets cause damage to metal or aircraft inside the hangars.”

Sergeant Pate mentioned that to help prevent birds from forming nests inside the C-130J hangars, wire mesh was installed to keep them from having access to the ceilings.

Wire mesh helps to keep birds from nesting inside the hangars and contractors keep the grass surrounding the airfield to a height between 7 and 14 inches. The grass’ height is tall enough to hide smaller animals to keep predators away from the airfield, said Captain Schneider.

The 317th BASH team strives to reduce the number of bird strikes that can cause harm or damage to the aircraft.

For more information on the BASH program, visit the Air Force Safety Center website at http://www.safety.af.mil/Divisions/Aviation-Safety-Division/BASH.