LTC Richard Roberts, Commander of the 376 EFSS looks across a nearly 14,000 foot long runway, it’s mid morning here at Transit Station Manas, Kyrgyzstan. Military and commercial airlines have been landing and taking off on the hour, throughout the morning. The operational tempo of the flight line that USAF 376 EAW/SE team members oversee is a mix of military precision and five ring circus act. Military and commercial aircraft come and go in a choreographed production that requires constant hyper vigilance “ I can tell you that we’ve never had one of our Air Traffic Controllers fall asleep on the job.” says Roberts, whose team of US Air Force Services Team Members are serving as hosts for the 376th AEW to the first ever Armed Forces Entertainment RANGERS Tour “We’ve got the warplanes and commercial airlines covered and coordinated, what we can’t control from the ‘Tower’ are the other birds that call this place home” referring to the population of resident and transient native crows and other species.
Stephen Farrell, a worker with Phoenix Bird Services based in the United Kingdom is a soft spoken predator bird expert charged with assisting the Transit Center with repelling the various species of feathered friends in a manner that is both effective and resilient. “ You can drive down this runway with a scatter gun, scaring the birds away on the hour -every hour, but they’ll be right back” says Farrell, “ To keep the birds away, we use predator birds, which we’ve found to be the absolute most effective.”
With a day full or behind the scenes US Armed Forces Member Troop visits, the pure beauty of ‘Jet’ a magnificent young hawk wasn’t lost on seasoned combat veteran Max Mullen, “ What this single bird does to protect the billions of dollars of aircraft and priceless value of our Troops that fly in and out of here is just amazing”
Farrell’s young hawk ‘Jet’ receives clearance to take off on soaring missions from the very Air Traffic Control Tower that releases thousands of jet fueled birds into the air every year, airplanes that carry in so many cases priceless cargo in the form us US Armed Forces Members.
In the high stakes high tech world of counter terrorism fighting the sight of ‘Jet’ soaring around TSM conjures up thoughts of Castles and Falconers performing for kings. “Stephen had Jet swoop down and land right on my hand, now that’s cool, I’ve never been that close to a Hawk before.” said Charlie Manis, a decorated RANGER Company member of the Armed Forces Entertainment Team “I’ve been flying military air and commercial airliners for years... I never knew this type of program existed, it’s an honor to add ‘Jet the Hawk’ to the long list of behind the scenes service members, who protect, fight and serve our nation every day”.
The Tour Continues...
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