ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Even with the noise of the aircraft flying 1,000 feet above the ground, the mood is quiet.
"Six minutes!" yells Staff Sgt. Laura Bourdlais, a 58th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, before she opens the side door revealing the lights of San Antonio, Texas, in the distance.
Soon, 80 Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard, 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment, will jump out the side door of a C-17 Globemaster III, and attempt to land in a drop zone in total darkness.
This was the scene as two C-17s from the 58th AS participated in a joint exercise Jan. 23.
"Altus (Air Force Base's) primary objective is to get personnel air drop currency for our loadmasters because they cannot get it here at Altus," said Capt.Jason Sikorski, a 58th AS C-17 instructor pilot.
According to Bourdlais, C-17 loadmasters are required to complete a static line jump once a year to stay proficient. In addition to the annual training requirements, loadmaster graduates from technical training have to complete a static line jump within 90 days of arriving to their first duty station.
"I love working joint operations," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Kanzler, a 294th Quarter-Master Company parachute rigger NCO. "The Air Force is always an excellent teammate in these operations. They're very friendly and accommodating."
According to Kanzler, the C-17s help to get a lot of paratroopers current in their training status at one time.
Several passes were made over the drop zone to get all 80 Soldiers out of the aircraft safely.
"One of our missions we are working toward is a full airfield seizure," said Army National Guard Maj. Wade Aubin, the 1st Battalion Airborne operations officer. "In order to put our entire battalion on the airfield at once, it takes large aircraft ... so we can have the maximum effect."