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Incentive flight brings big picture into focus

An F-16 Fighting Falcon takes on fuel from an Arizona Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker over northern Arizona during a training mission, Jan. 10. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon takes on fuel from an Arizona Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker over northern Arizona during a training mission, Jan. 10. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin)

PHOENIX -- Every Airman plays a vital role in mission success, from commanders to pilots to finance personnel, and they succeed as one team. Sometimes it takes a special event to see how the accomplishments of others affect the mission.

For a group of deserving Airmen, the opportunity came early this morning during an incentive flight in a KC-135 Stratotanker.

Incentive flights are usually offered to individuals who show exceptional performance in their duties. For the 161 Air Refueling Wing, this includes the opportunity to see an air refueling mission in action from a tanker boom pod.

"I feel lucky to have been chosen to experience an incentive flight," said Staff Sgt. Breanne Coderre, an aircrew flight equipment craftsman. "Sometimes it's easy to forget the impact we make on the big picture and how the individual accomplishments of others affect the mission on the whole."

Coderre said right from the start, watching the safety video, she saw her impact on the mission.

"We prepare the safety equipment they were using in the safety video, from the rafts to the [Emergency Passenger Oxygen System]," she said. "Having the opportunity to see the equipment I help maintain available for use on the aircraft, plus seeing the crew chiefs, pilots and booms doing their jobs - it all flowed together. I gained a new appreciation for what they do and what they are responsible for. It was the big picture in action."

She said the incentive flight not only broadened her perspective, but also enhanced her view of her personal impact on the mission.

"I know our pilots are experienced and know what they are doing, but I still got a little nervous on take-off; however, it was comforting to know the safety equipment was there and that I was partly responsible for it being available for use," said Coderre.

"So much goes into your job, but sometimes you don't really see the impact it is having," she added. "Every single person plays a part. I'm glad I didn't have to use the EPOS though."