Operations at Metro, City airports add flexibility to Michigan Air Wing

  • Published
  • By Technical Sgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
With two full-service airports less than an hour's drive away, the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard enjoys a level of flexibility available to few military units in the U.S.

The 127th Wing, which flies the KC-135 Stratotanker and the A-10 Thunderbolt II, has utilized both Detroit Metropolitan Airport - the Detroit region's major air hub - and Coleman A. Young Airport - popularly known as City Airport - in the past week to accomplish the Wing's mission, even as major overhaul work is underway on the air field at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, where the Wing is stationed.

"Our Wing's motto is 'We Stand Ready.' To live up to that motto, we need to be innovative and flexible in our ability to accomplish our mission - even if our air field is undergoing some scheduled work," said Col. Philip R. Sheridan, 127th Wing Commander. "Having the ability to operate from these other area airports gives us options that few other Wings have so readily available."

In a $5.3 million project, one of the aircraft taxiways at the 97-year old air base is being totally removed and replaced with fresh pavement in a scheduled renovation. Due to the taxiway construction, some air traffic patterns at the base have shifted slightly, which may be noticeable by some areas residents. Because the KC-135s at Selfridge routinely are called upon to provide aerial refueling services across the continental U.S. and beyond, some aircraft, pilots and maintainers made the temporary move to Detroit Metro. From the end of World War II through 1971, the Michigan Air National Guard operated two squadrons of aircraft at Metro, prior to relocating to Selfridge.

The Michigan Air National Guard utilized the Young Airport in Detroit for a May 18 deployment by about three dozen of the base's 127th Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen to the state of Maine for an Innovative Readiness Training mission. During an IRT, military units conduct training exercises, building projects for nonprofit groups, in this case a Boy Scout Camp near Raymond, Maine. The Scouts provide the supplies and the military provides the manpower, training junior troops in various job skills.

The Selfridge Civil Engineers traveled from Detroit to Maine via a C-130 Hercules aircraft operated by the 182nd Airlift Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard. The timing of the Airmen's trip from Detroit worked out perfectly for at least one person -- a young boy at the airport with his father was all smiles and grins as several of the Airmen agreed to take a group picture with the youngster -- perhaps encouraging a future U.S. Airman in the process.

Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operations Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which is also home to units of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection.