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Whatever It Takes: Edwards AFB Airmen train to survive in the wilderness

  • Published
  • By Adam Bowles
  • 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

For Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists stationed at Edwards, they're not only trained to survive in austere conditions, but they train aircrew members to do the same. As part of a course called Initial Survival Training (IST), both military and civilian aircrew members undergo three and a half days of intense and fast-paced training that puts their survival skills to the test in case of a flight emergency.

"What we are doing is giving them what they need in order to survive if they find themselves in an inflight emergency, a crash, whatever it is," Staff Sgt. Sean Kostelecky, 412 OSS SERE Specialist explained. "The training is obviously different because it's here in the state side.  They are in the environment that they could potentially themselves isolated in. So, we are just going over basically the foundations on what they need to survive long enough for recovery forces to get there and for them to help recovery forces in that process."

All Edwards AFB aircrew must pass this training in order to fly.  The SERE instructors' message: Do whatever it takes.

I want to train everyone to have this," Staff Sgt. Marco Hernandez, 412 OSS SERE Specialist said.  "This is good knowledge to have in circumstances you never want to be in. I feel good about them learning."

Additionally, the SERE instructors teach the aircrew members who attend the basic principles of survival which are signaling and recovery, medical, personal protection, sustenance and navigation.

"As a instructor when you see your students and aircrew practice the techniques and procedures you train them for, and they see concepts in reality work; that's instant gratification for me," Hernandez said.

Survival skills boost aircrews' confidence in the sky. 

"To me it's important since we do the test job there's always a chance when you are flying that you can have a crash landing or something like that," 1st Lt. Brennan Megeff, 418th FLTS explained.  "So it helps me to feel more prepared in the event of a crash landing that I could survive out here and last long enough to be rescued."

SERE also provides vital skills for students new to the outdoor experience. After all the training and the three-day survival test is said and done, most IST participants say the training is only a part of what they take away from the experience.

"I'm learning how to make a fire which I never made a fire before," Britney Jaworski, 418th FLTS said. "With these skills I will be able to participate in more missions and be able to test functionality new and upgraded in the future."

The IST course is normally held once a month during the May through October timeframe and can accommodate a maximum of ten students per class.