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From ground to sky: the critical role of SARM

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keira Rossman
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

In the clear blue skies above Del Rio, Texas, Team XL dominates the horizon. The roar of training aircraft is made possible, not just by the pilots in the cockpits, but also by the meticulous efforts of those on the ground. 

The squadron aviation resource management (SARM) flight personnel are pivotal players in the intricate coordination and execution of flying. Though their work is behind the scenes, their contribution is at the forefront of every successful flight. 

Laughlin is home to four SARM flights, each assigned to a specific squadron and airframe. These flights manage the 85th, 434th, 86th, and 87th Flying Training Squadrons. 

These teams are responsible for managing and tracking essential elements that allow pilots to fly safely and efficiently, including reviewing medical clearances, overseeing training requirements and maintaining up-to-date flight records, scheduling sorties and managing flight hours.  

The effectiveness of the SARM directly influences a flying squadron’s operational readiness and success.  

The 85th and 434th FTSs focus on the foundational stages of a pilot’s career utilizing the T-6A Texan II trainer aircraft.  

“The T-6 SARM at Laughlin is the aviation resource management system (ARMS) personnel that starts the student pilots flying career,” said Senior Airman Olivia Mills, 85th FTS aviation resource management SARM. “We are the team that step [give permission to aviators to fly] them for their first ever flight, commonly referred to as their ‘dollar ride’.” 

The initial stages of pilot training can set the tone for a student’s entire flying career.  

SARM’s expertise, attention to detail and rigorous adherence to protocols provide the safety net to allow student pilots to learn and understand the basics of their flying career, effectively playing a role in shaping competent, confident and skilled pilots. 

To maintain this high level of proficiency and readiness, SARM Airmen undergo rigorous training.  

“Each team member receives T-6 specific one-on-one on the job training that ensures they are ready for day-to-day operations,” said Staff Sgt. Cori Mathis, 434th FTS SARM non-commissioned officer in charge. “This includes but is not limited to being put into stressful situations, quick decision making, and learning when and how to tell individuals they are unable to fly.” 

Their role is pivotal in shaping the initial stages of flight training, where the groundwork for the future advanced training is imparted.  

With a daily flight average of 90-140 for T-6 flights alone, the team faces various challenges throughout the day.  

“The most significant challenge we in a SARM face is averting as many daily sortie cancelations as possible,” said Mark Salas, 85th FTS aviation resource management SARM. “The SARM coordinates with various operations and maintenance agencies, non-stop daily to prevent cancelations at all levels. This includes coordinating with the members when they are showing overdue for their flight currencies to coordinating with our HARM counterparts to validate everyone’s aviation service data is correct in our ARMS database.” 

HARM (Host Aviation Resource Management) works in tandem with SARM by managing the overall career and special pay data for aircrew members, whereas SARM focuses on maintaining and managing the combat mission-ready status of aircrew. 

Despite facing multiple challenges, SARM Airmen are adept and thoroughly prepared for any situation with their teammates by their side; ready to execute the mission. 

“Our team is diverse in experience and capability,” said Mathis. “We can all step up when called upon. Due to the number of sorties the T-6 flies per day, our office has a huge impact on performing various functions to ensure safety of flight.” 

A SARM flight plays a vital role in the rigorous training regime of the squadron, including in the 87th FTS, which specializes in advanced flight training including encompassing contact, acrobatics, fighter fundamentals, and more. 

"SARM is the backbone of a flying squadron," said Senior Airman Earney Maker, 87th FTS aviation resource management SARM. "We are involved in every step of the preparation process, performing the go/no-go checks." 

The importance of the 87th FTS SARM cannot be overstated, with their responsibilities extending to reconcile Laughlin’s $61 million T-38C flying hour program. 

At the end of the day, after navigating an intricate maze of logistical challenges and operational demands, SARM members of both the 85th FTS and 87th FTS share a common sentiment from seeing the results of their efforts.  

"The most rewarding part of my job is seeing or hearing a T-38 in the air hacking the mission," said Maker. "Knowing that I was a part of that mission and because of the contributions I made, they are qualified and effective." 

Mathis echoed a similar sentiment.  

“The most rewarding part is seeing the flight hours and how many sorties we made possible,” said Mathis. “We measure the impact by the number of pilots we get to see graduate and the effectiveness of the mission.” 

With diverse roles encompassing SARM, training, scheduling, and computer systems, every position within these four flights is essential to Laughlin’s mission of building combat-ready Airmen, leaders and pilots.