Photo Information

Cpl. Eric Flynn, a canine handler aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., and Piki, a working dog, search the outside of a UC-12F, a twin-engine turboprop aircraft, for explosive materials Sept. 24. The two inspected the aircraft during a training designed to prepare the team for the MCAS Miramar Air Show. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Austin Goacher) (Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Austin Goacher

For the dogs? Working K-9s prep for air show

24 Sep 2008 | Lance Cpl. Austin Goacher

 Military working dogs and their handlers bound into action when they suspect explosive materials may be at an unknown location on the air station.

Sept. 24, two military working dog teams, each consisting of one handler and one canine, responded to a simulated situation in which explosive materials were reported near a static display here.

The first aircraft, a KC-130J belonging to Marine Aerial Refueler and Transport Squadron 352, Marine Aircraft Group 11 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, presented a chance for the teams to take their training to an environment they might face at the Miramar Air Show.

“With the air show coming up, this training is very beneficial because it gives us another practical training area to work with,” said Sgt. Michael Rubingh, the assistant kennel master here.

During the exercise, Rubingh hid explosive training aids aboard the aircraft while two canine handlers and their four-legged partners waited for their portion of the training to begin.

At the beginning of their search, a Marine and his working dog approached the aircraft from a downwind angle, slowly making their way toward the KC-130J.

Approaching the aircraft this way allows the dog to pick up the scent of explosives before searching the entire aircraft, explained Gunnery Sgt. Michael Nolen, the kennel master here.

After the initial approach, the team searches the outside of the aircraft before boarding the aircraft and continuing their search.

“On the flight line and around the aircraft there are a lot of odors the dogs don’t know, but they are trained to find explosives,” said Nolen.

During the process the canine handler watches for changes in the dog’s behavior, the changes let the handler know if the animal has found the material.

“The dogs do things like sniffing harder to let us know they have the scent,” said Lance Cpl. Nicholas Dudeck, a canine handler with the Provost Marshal’s Office here. “On the KC-130J he (Zoran, a working dog here) picked up the odor from around 40 or 50 feet away.”

After their training aboard the “Raiders’” aircraft concluded, the teams moved down the flight line to the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 hangar to perform searches on a UC-12F, twin-engine turboprop aircraft.

The smaller aircraft once again proved no match for the sensitive noses of the military working dogs. Each dog was able to find their target after an inspection of the perimeter and search of the interior of the plane.

“It’s good for us and the dogs to come out here and do this type of training because it lets the dogs work around different odors,” said Cpl. Eric Flynn, a canine handler partnered with working dog Piki during the exercise.

The Marines hope to make the training event a quarterly exercise.