JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
The 457th Airlift Squadron is stationed on Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, but is a part of the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.
Although they are a geographically separated unit and a small squadron, their mission is essential to senior leaders and the Air Force.
"Our mission is to transport leaders, primarily within the U.S., to key destinations with as little as 48-hour notice," Lt. Col. John Borowski, 457 AS commander, said. "The unit is currently flying two missions a day."
Borowski took command in August 2014, of the only active-duty C-21 squadron in the United States.
One of the first challenges he faced was the loss two planes to budget cuts.
"It was challenging when I first got here, dealing with the Air Force downsizing and manning," Borowski said. "However, it's was nice receiving great support from the 89th Airlift Wing and 11th Wing."
The unit continues to receive support from the 89th and 11th Wings such as communication, airfield support, safety and other necessary support.
The C-21's, assigned to the 457 AS, are one of the smallest jets in the U.S. military, having a maximum load of eight passengers and two crewmembers. Having a crew of two has come as a big change for some pilots.
"One of the biggest adjustments from flying C-130s is that I have no crew," Capt. Danny Samson, 457 AS pilot. "It is just the co-pilot and I."
Samson, like all pilots, has faced multiple challenges he had to overcome during a mission.
"In December 2014, I was on a mission when the plane's avionics system stopped working properly, causing us to resort to raw navigational and magnetic aids," Samson said. "When we landed, we switched planes. During the next flight, we received a bleed air leak notification, causing us to dump fuel and make an emergency landing."
For Samson, that mission was his most challenging flight. Usually, if challenges arise, they are every day issues from maintaining the aging planes to dealing with the weather.
Despite challenges the unit constantly faces, the 457 AS continues to overcome and showcase their expertise while airlifting the nation's leaders, Borowski said.
"Since my arrival, I've only come more impressed by morale, commitment and pride that the unit has for the mission and each other," he said.