All posts by paulf.bove

Continuing Fargo flood coverage from Minot Air Force Base

2nd Lt. Kidron B. Vestal, Deputy Chief of Public Affairs at Minot AFB, sent an update of the continued support being provided by the 54th Helicopter Squadron and other Airmen in Fargo, N.D. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009: 1117 CSTMinot Air Force Base Public Affairs is continuing to cover the flood support mission at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

“We are staying on to support the efforts of the augmentees that are assisting in personnel shortages at Grand Forks Air Force Base. We are working in the dining facility, our logistics readiness forces are driving shuttles, and our security forces are participating in field missions. We are projected to stay throughout the week and possibly into the following week.” Below are photos from Monday, March 30, 2009 that show the continued devastation in the area.





Aboard a UH-1N “Huey,” one of our crews from the 54th Helicopter Squadron at Minot Air Force Base was surveying the area in preparation for any needed search and rescue missions on the Red River. In doing so, we noticed a train frozen in its tracks, due to the flooding of the river north of Fargo, North Dakota.






While continuing to conduct aerial surveys, we passed by Army National Guard crews placing sandbags on the dike surrounding this home on the Red River, north of Fargo, North Dakota.







The F.L.I.R, or Forward Looking Infrared system, is just one of the many tools that our two crews use to facilitate search and rescue operations. The system can detect body heat from flood victims that are not easily seen, making the search missions more effective.

Minot AFB’s 54th Helicopter Squadron assists during Fargo flooding

When the Red River in Fargo, ND began to rise rapidly last week due to fast-thawing snow, members of the 54th Helicopter Squadron at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., began preparing for search and rescue missions as part of an interagency task force. In the past, the 54th Helicopter Squadron has deployed in support of Joint Task Force Katrina and Rita. The 54th brings specialized hoist equipment, a necessary tool for search and rescue in flood conditions, as well as a Forward Looking Infrared System, a high-tech camera with night vision and thermal heat-seeking capabilities. Reports state that the flood waters are easing, but there is still a lot of work and monitoring to do before an all clear can be sounded. Below are some photos (except #1) by Airman 1st Class Joshua Rosales and commentary from Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs from the effort.







MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. — A pair of UH-1N Huey helicopters take off from here March 25 heading for Bismarck, N.D., to assist in disaster relief efforts from flooding the city is bracing for. Eight crewmembers and two helicopters from the 54th Helicopter Squadron are deploying to aid the recovery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joe Rivera)







March 29, 2009
Today we demonstrated our search and rescue capabilities by showing community members in Hillsboro, N.D., how the Lucas hoist system provides recovery support. We had a crew from the 54th Helicopter Squadron, out of Minot Air Force Base, set up at the Hillsboro Regional Airport. We surveyed the flooding of the Red River and positioned our forces to be available when called upon. The helicopter our crew flew was a UH-1N “Huey”.







March 30, 2009—2:45 CST

Two of the helicopter crews from Minot Air Force Base redeployed Friday to Grand Forks Air Force Base, to assist in the flood relief efforts. Earlier in the week we went to Bismarck and returned to swap out the crew. Our teams are standing by to provide maximum support. Currently, we may be in place until Wednesday, but a duration until Saturday is also a possibility. When this photograph was taken yesterday, the waters were up a little bit and the wall seemed to be holding. However today, the water has started to seep through.







March 30, 2009—2:50 CST

We continue to survey the bridge along the Red River, monitoring the flooding. We’ve already flown over it and around twice today and will continue so in the search and rescue mission.

Gov2.0Camp—Collaborating with the government

Today began the first ever Government 2.0 unconference. The concept isn’t new—people get together and make suggestions about what they’d like to discuss. If something catches your interest, you go listen to the group. If you don’t like it, you leave and find something else. What is new is that this is the first time that representatives from all branches of government, contractors, and nonprofit types are coming together to discuss social media, new media, transparency, Web 2.0, Gov2.0, communications in general, and whatever else crosses everyone’s mind. At the start of the day, a microphone was passed around and everybody in attendance said who they are, where they work, three words to describe their interest, and a topic they’d like to lead, if so inclined. It was amazing to see the diversity of representation. There are people from State Dept, NASA, the Sunlight Foundation, Finland, and a hundred other places. (Proudly, the Air Force led the military representation with six attendees.)

From our perspective, an event like this is a continuation of the Air Force’s efforts to engage the public—which for us includes talking to and listening to what you have to say. And this is also a stride to continue enforcing the idea that “every Airman is a communicator.” We want our Airmen to talk to the public, and we want the public to talk to them. Military men and women are doing a lot of different jobs, in addition to fighting a war, and people don’t often hear what they’re doing. In the bigger picture, each branch of the government is doing numerous jobs and it’s become apparent that they want to tell us what they have to say, and the public wants to hear what they have to say. Transparency has become a big buzzword following President Obama’s executive order on open government, and this event is a step in the right direction to helping ensure transparency. As always, if you have something you want to tell the Air Force, let us know. We’re listening and our Airmen are talking.

F-22A crash claims life of Edwards pilot, a U.S. Air Force veteran

The U.S. Air Force community sends its condolences to the family of Lockheed Martin test pilot David Cooley, who was killed during an F-22 test mission near Edwards Air Force Base, California. Below is the statement from Lockheed Martin and the press release from Edwards AFB. We will keep you posted on any updates.


FORT WORTH, Texas, March 25, 2009 – Lockheed Martin test pilot David Cooley, 49, was killed today at about 10 a.m. Pacific time in the crash of an F-22 aircraft flying on a test mission from Edwards AFB, California.  We are deeply saddened by the loss of David and our concerns, thoughts and prayers at this time are with his family.  David joined Lockheed Martin in 2003 and was a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force.  He worked at the F-22 Combined Test Force, where a team of Lockheed Martin and Air Force pilots conduct F-22 aircraft testing.
Questions about the aircraft accident should be addressed to the Edwards Air Force Base Public Affairs Office at 661-277-3511.

F-22A crash claims life of Edwards pilot
March 25, 2009
Release # 090325002 – 1800L
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — An Air Force F-22A crash today claimed the life of a USAF veteran and Lockheed Martin test pilot.

David Cooley, 49, of Palmdale, Calif., died when the F-22A he was piloting crashed northeast of Edwards AFB.  Cooley worked as a test pilot with Lockheed Martin, and was employed at the 411th Flight Test Squadron, 412th Test Wing, on Edwards AFB.  Cooley joined Lockheed Martin in 2003 and was a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force.  He worked at the F-22 Combined Test Force, where a team of Lockheed Martin and Air Force pilots conduct F-22 aircraft testing. 

“This is a very difficult day for Edwards and those who knew and respected Dave as a warrior, test pilot and friend,” said Maj Gen David Eichhorn, Air Force Flight Test Center commander.  “Our thoughts and prayers are with Dave and his family as we struggle through, and do all we can to support them.”

At approximately 10 a.m. this morning Edwards received word that the F-22A had gone down 35 miles northeast of the base.  First responders transported Cooley from the crash scene to Victor Valley Community Hospital in Victorville, where he was pronounced dead.

A board of officers is investigating the accident through an Accident Investigation Board, whose findings will be released to the public upon completion. 

Base officials stress that the accident site is remote and may contain hazardous materials released from the crash, and ask that individuals refrain from entering the area until the full investigation has been completed, and debris removed from the scene.
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Creating a World Wide Rave at Air Force Public Affairs Conference

For the past week, 350 Airmen and Air Force civilians have been meeting in Dulles, VA, at the 2009 U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Professional Development Seminar (we just call it the Worldwide).

UPDATE: March 25, 2009: Check out this post from the Acting Director of Air Force Public Affairs, Colonel Mike Caldwell.

The conference is a chance for everyone who works in public affairs (PA) to get together to share ideas and learn what others have been doing in their PA shop.

We discuss communication techniques that run from traditional media relations, to partnerships, to Combat Camera and Defense Visual Information. A big focus this year has been New Media Tactics. The Emerging Technology Division of AFPAA premiered their new book and video, both entitled “New Media and the Air Force,” and has been Tweeting (along with numerous other attendees) live updates from the event (follow #afpaww on Twitter). Though we’ve been engaging new media for little over a year through blogging, Air Force BlueTube, and Twitter, this conference has been the first chance to share these tools with other MAJCOMS and Airmen. The government and military have faced numerous challenges trying to get leadership buy-in to use social media. This is evident when we attend the Armed Services Social Media Working Group and hear the challenges our sister branches are facing. But we are making strides. Leadership is getting a little more comfortable with the idea of social media. President Obama’s executive order regarding transparency has also helped push this movement because government and military agencies now want to be sure that they’re sharing their stories in every media avenue. The reality is that social media is not going away and the government is going to have to adopt or miss out.

As more evidence of our strides, just look at who we had for our keynote speaker yesterday. David Meerman

David Meerman Scott
David Meerman Scott

Scott, author of five books, including The New Rules of Marketing and PR and the just-published World Wide Rave. Why does that matter? Because Scott is a communicator with ideas that are atuned to new media, which is not the traditional thought process for military PAs. He discussed some of the ideas from World Wide Rave and how you can change your way of thinking to create a new, captivating product that gets noticed. Some of these ideas fall under the notion of “viral” marketing, some are just a complete shift on how to advertise your product. Will this work for the military? It’s hard to say, but it is apparent that Scott empowered the Airmen to think of media and communications differently. Now the Airmen are armed with new ideas to practice public affairs, and more importantly, a new way to tell the Air Force story to the public. Follow us online and look for more social media from other MAJCOMs and wings. Share your stories and suggestions and join the conversation. We’d love to hear what you have to say.