MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Under the roaring of UC-12W Huron engines, were soft clicks of calculator buttons and the scribbling of a pencil as U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jason Roos determined weight limits of the aircraft. One small miscalculation could have ended in disaster for the pilots and passengers on the flight.
Originally a food service specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Roos had no idea what he was volunteering for. Without any previous knowledge of aviation, he set out to earn his Naval Aircrew Insignia by becoming a fixed-wing transport aircraft specialist, also known as a TA.
“I like flying, but when I first got into one of these aircraft the plane was smaller than what I’m used to,” said Roos. “Coming from where I was, I didn’t know a lot about aviation. Learning all of this gives me a whole new perspective.”
On July 26, 2017, Roos flew to Osan Air Base, Korea, with his Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization, or NATOPS, instructor, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Zachary Beach, to finish his mandatory 50 hours of flight time in order qualify to be a TA.
“I have confidence in Lance Cpl. Roos,” said Beach. “I taught him everything he knows. He didn’t have any safety or flight issues. I’m confident that he’ll make a good TA in the future.”
H&HS provides UC-12W services wherever they’re needed. If the commanding officer needs to fly in order to deal with business elsewhere, pilots and their TA will take him where he needs to go. The crew flies Marines that may need to qualify on the M16 rifle to Okinawa or take cargo to whoever may need it. The TA’s job is to make sure the flight runs smoothly.
“A TA basically makes calculations to ensure an aircraft is within limits,” said Beach. “They’ll back up the pilots and reduce their workload.”
The transition from food service specialist to fixed-wing transport aircraft specialist proved to be a challenge due to the contrast between the fields.
“The journey to becoming a TA consisted of a lot of studying,” said Roos. “When I arrived they handed me this huge book, the NATOPS book, and told me to read the whole thing. I thought it was a joke, but to be a TA you really need to know NATOPS inside and out.”
Roos also said he had to answer codes, or questions regarding the aircraft, emergency procedures and NATOPS, in addition to his 50 hours of flight time. He went to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, for aquatic survival training where he experienced a helicopter dunk tank. He was also exposed to a hypoxia situation, where he tested how his body and brain would react while undergoing oxygen deprivation.
Roos hopes to progress his career as a TA by following in Beach’s shoes and by experiencing as much as possible during his travels.
“I feel accomplished because I’m certified now,” said Roos. “I look forward to maybe becoming an instructor and to travel to places I’ve never been with the C-12. I’ve flown my hours and passed my codes. I’m ready to start flying by myself.”