STRATTON ANGB, NY -- Nine Capital Region professionals visited the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base as a professional development experience on Thursday, May 26, 2022.
Col. Robert Donaldson, the 109th’s vice commander, and other wing leaders, discussed Air Force structure, culture, and the role the New York Air National Guard plays within the community, with the visitors.
They also explained the 109th Airlift Wing’s unique role as the unit flying the largest ski-equipped aircraft in the world and the importance the New York Airmen play in supplying science operations in Greenland and Antarctica.
“Before today, I had no idea there were airplanes with skis on them in existence, let alone in the capital region. To get to see the skis and all the different parts was fascinating,'' said Kirsten Broschinsky, the director of development for Make-a-Wish Northeastern New York .
The nine professionals are participating in Leadership Tech Valley, an initiative of the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce.
The program takes local business and non-profit leaders and puts them together for day-long sessions over eight months in which they learn more about other agencies and business in the counties around Albany, New York.
The leadership training students were given a base tour, and got a look at the facilities where the LC-130 aircraft engines and skis are maintained. They got a hands-on look at the equipment that allows the 109th’s “Ski Bird” Hercules aircraft to land on and takeoff from the icy surfaces of Greenland and Antarctica.
They also visited the wing administrative offices and the 109th Security Forces Squadron.
Senior Master Sgt. Gary Fiorello, a first sergeant at the 109th who is also a member of the class, organized the visit.
“The goal today was to provide an overview and awareness of the 109th’s unique mission set. Our mission depends greatly on the support of our citizen Airmen and our local communities,” Fiorello said.
“When you hear ‘Air Force’ you think of pilots and that’s about it. But seeing firsthand the maintainers, the behind the scenes workers, security forces and all that goes into a successful operation is pretty amazing,” said Eileen Spath, the communications manager for Catholic Charities Albany.
“Coming here further reminded me of all the important work that the armed services do that the public doesn’t always realize. Seeing the knowledge and experience at this unit gave me so much more respect for the service provided here,” Broschinsky said.