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Load planners create critical balance in cargo, passenger movements

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Albert Kirkey, 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron team sergeant (left), and Master Sgt. Salvador Mascorro, 818th MSAS aircraft maintenance air advisor (right), look over an Ethiopian C-130 Hercules at Harar Meda Air Base, Ethiopia, Jan. 14, 2020. U.S. Air Force air advisors provided technical expertise to train Ethiopian Air Force aircrew on how to execute a C-130 mission profile to help support peacekeeping operations in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sarah Brice)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Albert Kirkey, 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron team sergeant (left), and Master Sgt. Salvador Mascorro, 818th MSAS aircraft maintenance air advisor (right), look over an Ethiopian C-130 Hercules at Harar Meda Air Base, Ethiopia, Jan. 14, 2020. U.S. Air Force air advisors provided technical expertise to train Ethiopian Air Force aircrew on how to execute a C-130 mission profile to help support peacekeeping operations in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sarah Brice)

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --

Transporting people and equipment on Air Force assets takes planning and preparation. Responsible for the movement of cargo and passengers in a safe and efficient manner, Air Force load planners are crucial to maximizing aircraft capabilities.

“Whether we move one aircraft of cargo or move the entire Contingency Response Group, we determine how it moves so we can complete our mission, anytime … anywhere,” said Master Sgt. Scott Carlson, 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron operations flight chief.

As a load planner for the 818th MSAS, Carlson relays his knowledge and experience of how to best utilize aircraft to African partner nation students.

“The Egyptian Air Force had a previous cargo mishap during a flight, and requested training to prevent it from happening again,” Carlson said. “During the mission, I was able to pass along several beneficial practices and skills that the Egyptians had not been taught previously, and it felt fulfilling being able to make an impact on the safety and operations of their Air Force.”

Carlson introduces students to different types of aircraft, their characteristics for loading and unloading requirements and how to properly balance an aircraft.

As a load planner, the job takes them everywhere.

“The thing I love the most about my job is the opportunity being an air transportation specialist opens up for you, if you’re willing and eager,” said Tech. Sgt. Sean Mick, 818th MSAS air advisor. “If you’re open for the experience, then the world is your stage. It has worked out way more than I had ever anticipated and have been blessed to see the world and meet awesome people everywhere I go.”

Load planning is a challenging job, but important for the safety and security of all flights.

“I like having the responsibility to coordinate the movement of personnel and material to multiple locations for the Air Force, our sister services, and other partner agencies, enabling them to complete their mission,” Carlson said. “I enjoy instructing the load planning capabilities to my students, and watching their skillset increase, which in turn, helps the countries’ overall military capabilities.”

Load planning is not just an additional qualification for an air advisor, it’s a way of life.

“Understanding the importance of the air movement of military resources from prioritization to seeing how it affects the operational missions,” Carlson said. “As an instructor for countries we support, I am able to see how this critical information helps them accomplish their missions in a safer and more effective way.”