Scant news released about the mission
The mission is called "Operation Enduring Freedom." That, Steindl's name, and the type of aircraft to be flown were about all the details released Thursday, March 29, at the air base.
"There are many unknowns, and we haven't had intel briefs yet," said German. "What we're doing now is preparing for the conditions we'll be landing in, and doing specialized tactical training. We conduct more intensive preparatory training for deployment in a combat theater of operations."
Steindl will fly with a co-pilot, a navigator and an engineer, whose names remain top secret. Whether they'll be transporting equipment or troops are details also not being released to the public. The voluminous, stripped-down craft is lined with canvas seats to carry soldiers. It can fly about six to eight hours fully fueled, but the flight pattern to the Middle East will not be released.
Local training, then on to Missouri
Within a month, those involved in the mission will head to the Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Center in Missouri, considered the premiere facility for combat training.
Before they depart, members of the unit will practice nighttime and low-ground maneuvers in the local skies. Officials warn residents and property owners near the county airport to be aware of the unusual sights and sounds, and to not be alarmed by low-flying planes.
The crew will be working on landing aircraft on non-runway conditions.
"This will be an uncontrolled airfield, like landing in Louisiana when we went for hurricane clean-up," said German. "We'll be looking for a lot of debris. There won't necessarily be a clean spot to land. But our unit will master it, just like they've mastered everything else.""