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Monday, February 25, 2013

What has four legs and flies?

by Airman 1st Class Soo C. Kim
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


2/25/2013 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Security Forces Airmen and their K-9 partners learn to fly during Readiness Week Feb. 25 through March 1 at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Military Working Dogs train with security forces members to familiarize both handlers and the dogs to a unique mode of transportation - the UH-1 helicopter.

"Today, we're conducting helicopter-familiarization training," said Staff Sgt. David Duritsky, a MWD trainer with the 374th Security Forces Squadron. The purpose of the training is to expose the dogs to a new platform, an environment that they haven't been exposed to yet, Duritsky added.

Training starts with exposing the dogs to an inactive helicopter by letting them run and crawl through the helicopter while getting the smell of the environment, Duritsky said. The next step is exposing the dogs to a helicopter with its engine running, letting the dogs get used to the sound before finally flying in one.

"I'm hoping they're good with it," Duritsky said before taking off with the dogs and their handlers. The dogs' reactions to an active helicopter determine further training, Duritsky said.

With its passengers settled in, the UH-1 helicopter, assigned to the 459th Airlift Squadron, took to the sky and conducted a series of aerial pattern work.

According to Senior Airman Andrew Montgomery, a MWD handler with the 374th Security Forces Squadron, the training went well.

"It was good, it was the first time flying for both of us, so it was a little bit nerve wracking," Montgomery said. "It was a good experience."

Montgomery said his dog, Diesel, was confused at first, but he remained calm and performed the training well.

"(This training is) extremely beneficial, especially with the jet taxiing we get down range," Duritsky said. "A lot of the time we require flying from one area to another, and helicopters provide stable transportation method for the dogs and their handlers."

Montgomery said he found today's training incredibly helpful building experience for him and his dog before they deploy together.

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