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Oregon ANG hosts second Cascadia Airlift exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman First Class Adam Smith
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

Aircrews from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., and Yokota Air Base, Japan teamed up with the 173rd Fighter Wing for the second “Cascadia Airlift” exercise, June 3, 2019 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

“The purpose of the exercise is to demonstrate a proof-in-concept that Kingsley Field is capable of hosting large-scale cargo aircraft in the event of a Cascadia Subduction Zone natural disaster,” said Lt. Col. Chris Wright, the exercise planner for the 173rd Fighter Wing. He added that as part of the Oregon Air National Guard, it is important that the wing is prepared to assist the State if called upon by the Governor.

In the event of such an earthquake, Kingsley Field could be a valuable staging point for relief and emergency response.   Kingsley Field is geographically separated from the majority of high-risk areas, meaning that the base should continue to be operational and accessible during relief operations. Additionally, Kingsley’s relatively central location would enable quick access to affected areas.

In response to the simulated disaster, two C-130 aircraft made their way from as far as Japan to Kingsley Field to practice staging on the airfield. The flights crossed 300 miles of steep, mountainous terrain to deliver cargo to an affected area. Aircrews practiced loading and unloading equipment at a coastal airfield as well as simulated low-altitude cargo airdrops to prepare for the eventuality that a disaster damages runways beyond use.

The C-130 brings a unique ability to access problematic areas other aircraft cannot. A disaster would most likely render roads and bridges unusable. This airlift capability allows for cargo transport of vital relief into affected areas quickly, no matter the condition of the roads below.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a fault that extends more than 600 miles up the Pacific Coast. Starting in Northern California and ending in Canada, an earthquake from this fault could register at more than 9.0 on the Richter Scale. An event like that would devastate the entire coastline and damage vital infrastructure.