Kingsley Field hosts ANG Director
By Senior Airman Adam Smith, 173rd Fighter Wing
/ Published July 01, 2021
KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- On an unusually hot Friday at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore., U.S. Air Force Col. Jeff Edwards, 173rd Fighter Wing commander, and Brig. Gen. Donna Prigmore, Oregon Air National Guard (ANG) commander, assembled on the ramp to welcome Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, ANG director, as he stopped to visit Kingsley Field on June 25, 2021.
Loh joined senior leaders from around Kingsley Field to receive updates about the local fighter training mission, discuss issues with maintenance, and lay out his vision for the upcoming transition to the F-15EX Eagle II, slated to begin in 2023.
Among the issues discussed was the challenge of training students to fly 40-year-old jets, which present more maintenance issues as they age. According to Lt. Col. Lee Bouma, 173rd Maintenance Group commander, as more jets reach their end of life, maintainers must work harder to keep the remaining jets operational to meet the training quotas.
Following lunch, Loh toured the operations building where he spoke to pilots, presented coins, and saw the simulator setup that student pilots use to practice flight maneuvers from the ground. He also stopped through the intelligence formal training unit to meet the intelligence students and see how they learn at the 173rd Fighter Wing.
From there, the General’s party stopped in the maintenance hangars to see first-hand the maintenance issues that the Airmen face with keeping the F-15 operational. Loh climbed on top of the Eagle to see how the jet is inspected for metal fatigue.
The non-destructive inspection Airmen described the microscopic cracks that develop as the jets perform high-speed maneuvers which, while invisible to the naked eye, can weaken the aircraft structure and make the jet unsafe to fly.
Loh finished the day by visiting the new Resilience Operations Center (ROC), a purpose-built location focused on reshaping the stigma around mental health and seeking guidance. The ROC includes a kitchen, discrete entrances, space for classes, and private noise-insulated meeting rooms.
As he finished his tour, Loh said he was impressed by the Kingsley Airmen, saying “The integration of Total Force between the Guard and the Active Duty and what they do for national defense has been wonderful.”
He continued to praise the local guardsmen, adding, “It’s the Airmen, the people that truly make it happen, and I greatly appreciate all the work that they’re doing to keep these forty-year old planes flying and to keep the mission running and training our next generation of fighter pilots.”