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Operations Boss: Support for air show a daunting task

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- -- This is the fourth in a series of articles on the behind-the-scene oerations in planning an air show.

Traffic, parking, transportation, communication, fuel, medical, lodging and flightline support--are just some of the major areas that the Operations Boss and his team are working hard in preparation for this year's Open House and Air Show. 

The event, scheduled for April 14-15, has Senior Master Sgt. Scott Kastner wearing a different hat from his duties as Fuels Superintendent of the 96th Logistics Readiness Squadron's Fuels Flight. 

Sergeant Kastner and his team have the huge responsibility to provide the main support function for the air show. One of which is figuring out where to park all the vehicles once they arrive on base and how to keep visitors safe. 

"The biggest issue we are working right now is the parking plan and we don't know the variables: the number of people and what the weather will be, MSgt Greg Brickhouse and the SF folks have done a great job bringing the plan together" he said. 

Sergeant Kastner said buses will be available to move people from outlying parking areas to the entry control points. He's knows turn time is significant, so he and Tech Sgt. Scott Neu, Transportation POC for the air show, are developing a workable plan to get folks to the show quickly. 

"We don't want people waiting too long for a bus and then lose them," Sergeant Kastner said. 

Force protection, and the safety of the visitors and the performers, is another issue being worked by security forces, the office of special investigations and the anti-terrorism office. 

Getting the word out as to what visitors can and can't bring on the flightline is critical to keep the traffic flowing smoothly so people won't have to return to their cars to lock up prohibited items. 

Besides transportation, another important undertaking is civil engineering's role in helping set-up the flightline by securing all the barriers, fencing, port-a-lets and ensuring power to all support functions on the flightline. 

"Senior Master Sgt. Pat Root has done a tremendous job of handling the vast scope of the responsibilities the CE folks have for the Air Show, Sergeant Kastner said, "one of which is developing a plan to control trash on the flightline. 

The operations committee is recruiting volunteers to keep the flightline clear of debris.
"Nothing can ruin the appearance of an air show more than if trash is overflowing," Sergeant Kastner said. 

Many key personnel in the civil engineering, logistic readiness and security forces squadrons are hit hard by deployment, so the operations boss needs volunteers to fill the gaps. His point of contact is the Air Show volunteer coordinator, Jim Wood, who can be reached at 883-2035, or he can be e-mailed if someone wants to help. 

"I'd hate to see someone who wants to volunteer not have an opportunity," the sergeant said. "I welcome everyone to come out and participate, even if it's one person who just wants to be out on the flightline and be involved." 

The Operations team also has the task of providing communications support for the entire air show to include participants, emergency agencies and support functions. 2nd Lt. Matt Meckes is getting a firm handle on the numerous requests for communications support. 

"One of the variables you plan for but hope to never have to use is to ensure we have adequate medical support on-hand," Sergeant Kastner Said. "Maj. Lee Alexander, Operations Medical POC, and her folks have the daunting task to prepare for emergency care of 75,000 people plus on the flightline. They have done a great job working with us and the contingency boss to prepare to handle any situation that may arise." 

"The Air Show definitely keeps you busy; in fact I even needed Fuels POC to handle all the fuel support issues for the Air Show. My Operations NCOIC, MSgt Chris Schiro is coordinating the fuel support for all the aircraft coming in as well as ensuring ground fuel support for the numerous generators needed to support our vendors." 

Capt. Louis Ruscetta, 681st Armament Systems Squadron, is the Assistant Operations Boss and is working closely with Sergeant Kastner to make sure everything goes as planned during the two-day show. 

"This is my first air show in this capacity," Sergeant Kastner said. "It is a great experience because it opens your eyes a lot to what happens behind the scenes. Captain Ruscetta and I are really working together, dividing and conquering the never ending issues and tasks you face." 

Sergeant Kastner said there have been many challenges so far, "but it makes me appreciate what everyone else is doing out there." His committee contributes a great deal of expertise to get things done. 

"The entire team and their staff have been very proactive and there's been a lot of input; they've stepped up and are making this job easier." 

But Sergeant Kastner can't help feeling the pressure of making the base welcome for potentially more than 100,000 visitors for the air show. 

"Capt Ruscetta keeps telling me to quite worrying, chaos is at the highest right before we start the show and then it all comes together," he smiled. 

Sergeant Kastner said Air Show Boss, Lt. Col. John Knowles sums up the Operations function in three words, "Make Miracles Happen." 

"With the staff of folks working the Air Show and the line-up of performers and participants I have no doubt this will be one of the most memorable Air Shows Eglin and the local community will ever see."

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