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167th Airlift Wing BASH program vital to airfield safety

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Alan Romero, the airfield manager with the 167th Operations Support Group, is responsible for the ramp and airfield at the 167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg, West Virginia, May 12, 2021. Airfield management's role not only impacts military operations, but civilian aviation as well.

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Alan Romero, the airfield manager with the 167th Operations Support Group, is responsible for the ramp and airfield at the 167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg, West Virginia, May 12, 2021. Airfield management's role not only impacts military operations, but civilian aviation as well. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Sencindiver)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jose Marrero, noncommissioned officer in charge of airfield management with the 167th Operations Support Group, sets up a pyrotechnic propane canon near the runway, as part of the Bird/wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazards (BASH) program, at the 167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg, West Virginia, May 12, 2021. The airfield management team uses many different types of noise making devices to encourage animals to move away from the airfield to ensure safe flying operations.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jose Marrero, noncommissioned officer in charge of airfield management with the 167th Operations Support Group, sets up a pyrotechnic propane canon near the runway, as part of the Bird/wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazards (BASH) program, at the 167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg, West Virginia, May 12, 2021. The airfield management team uses many different types of noise making devices to encourage animals to move away from the airfield to ensure safe flying operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Sencindiver)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jose Marrero, noncommissioned officer in charge of airfield management with the 167th Operations Support Group, notifies air traffic control before firing pyrotechnics as part of the Bird/wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazards (BASH) program, at the 167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg, West Virginia, May 12, 2021. The airfield management team uses many different types of noise making devices to encourage animals to move away from the airfield to ensure safe flying operations.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jose Marrero, noncommissioned officer in charge of airfield management with the 167th Operations Support Group, notifies air traffic control before firing pyrotechnics as part of the Bird/wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazards (BASH) program, at the 167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg, West Virginia, May 12, 2021. The airfield management team uses many different types of noise making devices to encourage animals to move away from the airfield to ensure safe flying operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Sencindiver)

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --

At the 167th Airlift Wing, airfield management ensures a safe, efficient and effective airfield and responds to safety hazards affecting the airfield environment.

Safety threats like the weather, foreign object damage and even local wildlife pose a serious risk to aircraft operations. To mitigate these threats, airfield management utilizes various safety programs.

“What we do not only impacts military operations, but also civilian aviation,” said Senior Master Sgt. Alan Romero, 167th AW airfield manager.

The Bird/wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazards (BASH) program is one way airfield management ensures a safe airfield. The program aims to minimize catastrophic aircraft incidents caused by wildlife. Airfield management along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Wildlife Services (USDA APHIS Wildlife Services-West Virginia) implement the BASH program.

“It takes a cooperation between safety, USDA Wildlife Services, civil engineering and the tower,” said Romero.

Civil engineering’s role keeping the grass to the recommended height between seven and twelve inches is a critical component to the BASH program.

Senior Master Sgt. Josh Michael, 167th Civil Engineering facility manager, explained that keeping the grass too short makes small wildlife like mice more visible to their predators and grass that is too long allows for nesting behavior.

Airfield management often scans the taxiway and runway actively looking for indications of wildlife. They use many types of noise making devices to encourage animals to move away from the airfield.

Master Sgt. Jose Marrero, noncommissioned officer in charge of airfield management, said it is important to switch between the various devices they use because wildlife becomes immune to consistent noises.

Civilian and military air traffic assist as well, reporting wildlife activity or wildlife to aircraft strikes to the BASH team.

This information is important especially if there are remains from a strike because a carcass may draw black vultures or coyotes to the airfield.

Through investigating and reporting evidence of wildlife, historical data comes together to confirm animal patterns which help predict their behavior.

That knowledge enables BASH team members from USDA APHIS Wildlife Services-West Virginia and Master Sgt. Nathaniel Smith, flight safety manager to make smart decisions when planning actions to deter wildlife.

Smith said the program’s effectiveness is supported by comparing the data collected by USDA APHIS Wildlife Services-West Virginia since 2015 to recent statistics which shows a reduction in wildlife presence on the airfield.

Smith praised the efforts of the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services-West Virginia and airfield management, who continually ensure the airfield’s compliance with safety standards.

“Wildlife management can seem unpredictable, but through every member and component of BASH we are successful at keeping the airfield safe, which increases mission safety.” said Smith.

At the 167th Airlift Wing, airfield management ensures a safe, efficient and effective airfield and responds to safety hazards affecting the airfield environment.

Safety threats like the weather, foreign object damage and even local wildlife pose a serious risk to aircraft operations. To mitigate these threats, airfield management utilizes various safety programs.

“What we do not only impacts military operations, but also civilian aviation,” said Senior Master Sgt. Alan Romero, 167th AW airfield manager.

The Bird/wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazards (BASH) program is one way airfield management ensures a safe airfield. The program aims to minimize catastrophic aircraft incidents caused by wildlife. Airfield management along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Wildlife Services (USDA APHIS Wildlife Services-West Virginia) implement the BASH program.

“It takes a cooperation between safety, USDA Wildlife Services, civil engineering and the tower,” said Romero.

Civil engineering’s role keeping the grass to the recommended height between seven and twelve inches is a critical component to the BASH program.

Senior Master Sgt. Josh Michael, 167th Civil Engineering facility manager, explained that keeping the grass too short makes small wildlife like mice more visible to their predators and grass that is too long allows for nesting behavior.

Airfield management often scans the taxiway and runway actively looking for indications of wildlife. They use many types of noise making devices to encourage animals to move away from the airfield.

Master Sgt. Jose Marrero, noncommissioned officer in charge of airfield management, said it is important to switch between the various devices they use because wildlife becomes immune to consistent noises.

Civilian and military air traffic assist as well, reporting wildlife activity or wildlife to aircraft strikes to the BASH team.

This information is important especially if there are remains from a strike because a carcass may draw black vultures or coyotes to the airfield.

Through investigating and reporting evidence of wildlife, historical data comes together to confirm animal patterns which help predict their behavior.

That knowledge enables BASH team members from USDA APHIS Wildlife Services-West Virginia and Master Sgt. Nathaniel Smith, flight safety manager to make smart decisions when planning actions to deter wildlife.

Smith said the program’s effectiveness is supported by comparing the data collected by USDA APHIS Wildlife Services-West Virginia since 2015 to recent statistics which shows a reduction in wildlife presence on the airfield.

Smith praised the efforts of the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services-West Virginia and airfield management, who continually ensure the airfield’s compliance with safety standards.

“Wildlife management can seem unpredictable, but through every member and component of BASH we are successful at keeping the airfield safe, which increases mission safety.” said Smith.