July 30, 2008 Edition

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Drill held in preparation
for training at WR airport

Walnut Ridge Fire Department's Lt. Mark VanBrook (from right) and Capt. Wes Lillard listen as Major Tom Parker shows them a battery located in front of the entrance to the cockpit of a C-130. A drill was held Thursday in preparation for Arkansas Air National Guard training that is scheduled to begin at the Walnut Ridge Airport this fall.
Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

In preparation for the training planned for this fall at the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport by the Arkansas Air National Guard Air Force Base at Jacksonville, a drill was held on Thursday for the Walnut Ridge Fire Department.

The actual-time drill gave the soldiers and the fire department an opportunity to see how long it would take firemen to respond to the airport in the event of a real crash during the upcoming training.

"The C-130 made a couple of touch and goes, and then landed the plane to call in a crash alarm to the fire department," said WRFD Chief Alan Haskins.

Fire trucks from Station One on Highway 67B and Station Two at College City responded, with Station Three on East Main remaining on duty in town in case of an actual emergency elsewhere while the other stations trained.

"Our on-site truck arrived in about 20 to 30 seconds," Haskins said. "It took about four minutes for a truck from town to get to the drill site. Our times were real good."

Once firemen arrived on the scene, they learned about the C-130's safety features, how to shut off fuel to the plane's engine, how to get the doors open and where to cut the fuselage to allow firemen to assist crewmen out of the plane in the event of a crash and/or fire.

Haskins said he believes the chances of their being a crash is remote.

"If it's the military, you know they are always going to be professional and very careful," Haskins said.

Nonetheless, extra precautions will be taken and the WRFD will be on standby at the scene when they aircraft are landing, Haskins said.

Lt. Col. Louis Teer, Arkansas Air National Guard Director of Operations for the 154th Training Squadron, said the training flights will carry between five and 10 crew members on the plane.

"We will send permanent party familiarization flights to Walnut Ridge in the next 10-12 days," Teer said. The night vision training will begin in mid-October according to Teer.

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