And for all of those reasons, we’re in!

The airborne command, control, and communications community came together for a contest during the last few months. The idea was to stimulate innovative thinking and allow anyone the opportunity to pitch their ideas on how to make the community better.

The goal was to select two promising ideas that could move to prototype in fiscal year 2022.

Over 15 weeks, Capt. Adam Scott, Airborne Strategic Command, Control and Communications (PMA-271) program manager, and Capt. Cedrick Jessup, Strategic Communications Wing One commodore, would review 11 submissions over three rounds before making their selections.

“All the participants and supporters have made this inaugural event a success,” Scott said. “Thank you to everyone involved for your dedication to improving the airborne C3 community.”

The winning ideas were from Lt. Andy Husted for his aircrew firefighting and rescue program and Lt. Cmdr. Clinton Turner for his virtualized situation monitoring.

“The process was great and a fantastic tool for the community to bring a wide range of ideas and diverse viewpoints from different occupations straight to the upper leadership,” said Husted, Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 7 instructor pilot.

Husted’s program will provide TACAMO’s aircrew with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to maximize their potential for a positive outcome in various emergency scenarios.

Before joining the Navy, Husted was a firefighter/EMT.

“Using my background, I discovered training and operating deficiencies that do not properly prepare our crews for in-flight fires or rescue situations,” he said. “Creating competent aircrew firefighting and rescue operators could make the difference between a successful landing and evacuation, and the complete loss of an aircraft and its occupants.”

Since having his idea selected, Husted has formed a development team comprised of members from each aircrew position. This team is currently working with the local fire department to coordinate aircrew firefighting training in an aircraft smoke simulator as well as providing the fire department members with further training on the E-6B Mercury.

Acquisition of emergency equipment and training devices has begun and the team is currently working on the process for jet implementation. They will continue to develop a training program and hope to have full community execution within a year.

“Even though only a few weeks have passed since the conclusion of the final round, there has already been a quantifiable improvement in our operations,” Husted said.

Turner’s idea is to virtualize one of the services onto the E-6B with the goal of modernizing and reducing subsystem capability impact reporting time.

He came up with the idea while streaming a movie and realizing how little bandwidth was needed.

“I was thrilled to learn my idea was one of the selections,” said Turner, U.S. Fleet Forces Command staff officer. “I really enjoyed the process because it opened up a smart dialog of innovation among some very talented community stakeholders.”

Both winning proposals will continue to be developed/implemented throughout the next year and beyond.

“The commodore and I are excited about what the future holds for these innovative ideas,” Scott said.

Some of the proposals during the contest were too large in scope and were sent to their appropriate working groups for possible inclusion in future Naval Aviation Requirements Groups.

With the success from this initial event, another contest is being planned for this fiscal year with the hope of an even bigger turnout.

“We know the Sailors supporting our community have ideas that can make us better,” Scott said. “The contest this year showed they just need a forum to bring them forward.”