80,000 pounds... unloaded

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgt. Robert Kirkham (right), Loading Standardization Crew member, stands ready Aug. 14 as Tech. Sgts. Ryan Graney (left) and Jason Lease ensure the weapons trailer is lined up correctly with the Weapons Load Trainer’s simulated B-2 weapons bay. Each member of a Weapons Load Crew has a set of specific tasks during loading operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jason Barebo)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgt. Robert Kirkham (right), Loading Standardization Crew member, stands ready Aug. 14 as Tech. Sgts. Ryan Graney (left) and Jason Lease ensure the weapons trailer is lined up correctly with the Weapons Load Trainer’s simulated B-2 weapons bay. Each member of a Weapons Load Crew has a set of specific tasks during loading operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jason Barebo)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – The Weapons Load Trainer, built by Lockheed and Hughs in 1993 for Whiteman AFB, is a full scale B-2 weapons loading trainer used for training and certifying load crews. It uses two functional weapons bay and interfaces with actual rotary launcher assemblies, smart bomb rack assemblies and munitions lift trailer. The WLT is 67 feet long, 48 feet wide and 18 feet high weighing in at 80,000 pounds. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jason Barebo)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – The Weapons Load Trainer, built by Lockheed and Hughs in 1993 for Whiteman AFB, is a full scale B-2 weapons loading trainer used for training and certifying load crews. It uses two functional weapons bay and interfaces with actual rotary launcher assemblies, smart bomb rack assemblies and munitions lift trailer. The WLT is 67 feet long, 48 feet wide and 18 feet high weighing in at 80,000 pounds. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jason Barebo)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgt. Ryan Graney, Loading Standardization Crew member, assists in guiding a weapons trailer under the Weapons Load Trainer Aug. 14. Loading and unloading the WLT, as well as an actual B-2, requires a four-man team of certified weapons system loaders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jason Huddleston)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgt. Ryan Graney, Loading Standardization Crew member, assists in guiding a weapons trailer under the Weapons Load Trainer Aug. 14. Loading and unloading the WLT, as well as an actual B-2, requires a four-man team of certified weapons system loaders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jason Huddleston)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgts. Ryan Graney (left) and Jason Lease, Loading Standardization Crew members, standby as one of their teammates raises a weapons trailer Aug. 14 to unload a rotary launch assembly from the Weapons Load Trainer. The WLT here is a one-of-a-kind mock up of the B-2 that allows weapons crews to train without using a mission essential aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jason Huddleston)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgts. Ryan Graney (left) and Jason Lease, Loading Standardization Crew members, standby as one of their teammates raises a weapons trailer Aug. 14 to unload a rotary launch assembly from the Weapons Load Trainer. The WLT here is a one-of-a-kind mock up of the B-2 that allows weapons crews to train without using a mission essential aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jason Huddleston)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgt. Robert Kirkham (left), Loading Standardization Crew member, adjust the weapons trailer into position Aug. 14 as Tech. Sgt. Cary Cook (right), Loading Standardization Crew Team Chief, stands ready to unlock the rotary launch assembly from the Weapons Load Trainer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jason Barebo)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgt. Robert Kirkham (left), Loading Standardization Crew member, adjust the weapons trailer into position Aug. 14 as Tech. Sgt. Cary Cook (right), Loading Standardization Crew Team Chief, stands ready to unlock the rotary launch assembly from the Weapons Load Trainer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jason Barebo)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgt. Robert Kirkham, Loading Standardization Crew member, uses a weapons trailer Aug. 14 to remove a rotary launch assembly from the Weapons Load Trainer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jason Barebo)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgt. Robert Kirkham, Loading Standardization Crew member, uses a weapons trailer Aug. 14 to remove a rotary launch assembly from the Weapons Load Trainer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jason Barebo)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Whiteman is the only base to possess such a magnificent hunk of metal. It takes a four person crew to load, costs $19 million dollars to build and requires a checklist compiled of 10 chapters, one for each different scenario. What is it?

The Weapons Load Trainer. Built by Lockheed and Hughs in 1993 for Whiteman AFB, it is full scale B-2 weapons loading trainer used for training and certifying load crews. It uses two functional weapons bay and interfaces with actual rotary launcher assemblies, smart bomb rack assemblies and a munitions lift trailer. The WLT is 67 feet long, 48 feet wide and 18 feet high weighing in at 80,000 pounds. In English, it is a huge asset to Team Whiteman and the 509th Maintenance Group.

The crew in action Aug. 14 was very precise. Comprised of Tech. Sgt. Cary Cook, Loading Standardization Crew Team Chief, (1 man), monitored overall safety of the load and was responsible for the checklist and locking all munitions; Tech. Sgt. Robert Kirkham, LSC member, ( 2 man), trailer driver, bomb rack prep, and person to line up all munitions; Tech. Sgt. Ryan Graney, LSC member, ( 3 man ), dealt with munitions prep and composite tool kit custodian; and Tech. Sgt. Jason Lease, LSC member, (4 man), was the jammer driver and responsible for documentation in the aircraft forms.

"We can load or unload eight weapons at a time on an RLA," said Sergeant Kirkham. "The rotary launch assembly has four lock pins that lock it into place; we manually lock from the trailer to the RLA so the RLA does not spin."

How often do they train a load crew? According to Sergeant Cook they train three shifts a day five days a week depending on who needs training. If you are a newcomer you are trained on proficiency loads for two days a month after initial training of four weeks. Regular flight line load crews train for one day.

"This can be the best and worst, if the wing succeeds in an exercise or inspection in weapons loading we have done our job", said Sergeant Graney. "If the wing does not do well we have to answer for any deviations, fails, or damage to equipment."

The simulated unloading of munitions demonstrated by this crew was educational. Many steps and checkpoints occur during the process. Each member was on point. They operate on two inch clearances from the top of the WLT to the trailer being two inches from the ground after lowering. The four members have been at this for some time, between them 53 years of Air Force know-how.

Friendly competition among the loaders plays a part in morale building. Flight line load crews take a test, their CTK is inspected, uniform is inspected for proper wear, and the loads themselves are timed and evaluated. They also recognize a load crew every month as the 'best'. The next load competition will take place in October.

The WLT is also a major area of interest at Whiteman including; change-of-command ceremonies, retirements, tours, and distinguished visitors.

"We are involved in several programs that are new to the B-2 and that are coming online in the near future for Team Whiteman," said Sergeant Graney.