Italian Air Force loadmasters

They ensure the safe transport of materials, patients and humanitarian aid.

Italian Air Force loadmasters
Italian Air Force loadmasters.

All aviation enthusiasts are mainly attracted by the role played by pilots of fighter aircraft, but there are also many other officers who have equally key duties in the Air Force, such as the loadmasters. In this article we talk about the loadmasters of the 46th Air Brigade of the Italian Air Force based in Pisa, Tuscany.

They are members of the flight crew who are responsible for safely loading, transporting and unloading aerial loads. Their work is crucial for a quick and safe delivery of loads that can often be life-threatening people. The 46th Air Brigade is included among the departments that ensure the urgent transport of patients in imminent danger of life and who need to reach distant hospitals without leaving the ambulance. Thanks to the versatility of its C-27J and C-130J transport aircraft, the 46th Brigade accomplishes dozens of missions of this type during the year. Just an example, at the beginning of April a C-27J carried a 15-day sick baby from Cagliari, Sardinia, to Rome.

The loadmasters, to guarantee the excellent success of these activities, verify that the embarked vehicle is adequately fixed inside the aircraft: an unexpected displacement during the flight, as in the case of turbulence, could create serious problems on the control of the plane by of pilots. Furthermore, they calculate and plan the positioning of the load and the passenger to maintain the correct balance of the aircraft during the flight and avoid overloading of sensitive sections of the cell and the load floor. The most commonly used tools for securing the load are chains, belts and closures integrated into the aircraft, they must assess the type, quantity and positioning of the load restraint system.

During tactical missions, the loadmasters can also directly influence combat readiness as they are responsible for the order of loading of strategic material (eg ammunition) to ensure fast delivery and distribution to the support units in the operational bases.

Recently, we were able to admire the loadmasters of the 46th Air Brigade in action, in a few minutes they loaded, anchored and unloaded with extreme precision an Lince armored vehicle, an ambulance and a vehicle of the Fire Department with a Quad 4x4 over the trailer.

The three flight groups of the 46th Air Brigade (2nd, 50th and 98th) are called every day to carry out this type of activity to support military and humanitarian missions in Italy and abroad, especially on the occasion of serious natural disasters. They also periodically conduct training for the transport of patients in bio-containment, such as the recent "Vigorius Warrior 2019" exercise.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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