Flight Safety: AOC Seeing More Than One Side of the Air Force

By Ms. Jennifer Yates, 618 AOC Chief of Safety

The 618th Air Operations Center (AOC) encompasses a wide range of responsibilities, and carrying out those responsibilities are personnel from an even broader range of career fields.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing MSgt Diana Tamayo and found her to be an excellent example of someone who has served in a wide range of career fields and has assumed a broad range of responsibilities in the 618 AOC. Tamayo works in our Airlift Directorate (ALD), specifically the special activities division, or ALDL. ALDL manages sorties supporting national objectives and provides a full-spectrum global reach at the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) largest AOC. This division ensures that air mobility assets carry out national security objectives for cabinet-level DoD, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Headquarters Air Force agencies. ALDL oversees the execution of compartmented airlift operations and implements President of the United States and Secretary of Defense programs.

In 2018, the 618 AOC opened a highly competitive planning position in the ALDL division. Tamayo is uniquely fitted for this division because of her 10-year background as a U.S. Air Force flight attendant. As a flight attendant, Tamayo experienced the aircrew side of the missions. She is very familiar with the outside coordinating agencies and the details, complications, and pressures of the mission set. Now she gets to see the mission set from the planning side. She likes getting to see another part of the Air Force and how global air mobility operations work. Tamayo went through the standard 618 AOC training that all personnel and planners must attend, and then she received additional on-the-job training. She generally schedules nine to 15 missions a month. She has learned the basic characteristics of the C-17 and C-5 aircraft, such as fuel planning, maximum takeoff weight, and the minimum runway length. “Seeing the gray tail side has been eye-opening,” she said. “Gray tail” is a reference to aircraft such as the C-5 and C-17 that are currently painted gray versus the distinguished visitor aircraft that are generally painted blue and white.

Tamayo has also learned the details and requirements of her new position, such as requesting diplomatic clearances and Notices to Airmen and reviewing the Giant Report’s and the Airfield Suitability and Restrictions Report’s airfield planning documents. She uses Aviation Operational Risk Management for gauging risk and provides assistance to the aircrew. Flexibility is often not possible due to users’ requirements and cargo, operating hours at the airfields that are sometimes not regularly used, Bird and Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard windows, and aircraft availability. She said, “this job is sometimes challenging, but also rewarding when you see the mission accomplished, the users’ requirements met, and know the crew has made it back home safely.”

Tamayo advises personnel consid­ering new assignments to “take advantage of opportunities, step outside of your career field, and do something different.”

From a planner’s perspective, she would like to ask the aircrew “to bear with us; the decisions we have to make on our end are dictated by a variety of things most aircrew[s] do not know about. It is anything from our users’ requirements to other higher priority missions, etc. I know how it is on the other end as far as long flight duty periods and short remain overnight times, so when I am planning a mission, I keep in my mind the users’ requirements and also possible concerns from the crew’s point of view.”

Tamayo’s parting words are that she is “glad to have had the opportunity to step away from the flight attendant career field and see another side of the Air Force.”