To provide the safest possible environment for the pilots, patrons, and aircraft.
SRS has provided the midwest with professional flightline safety crews to various aviation events since its beginning in 1999. SRS personnel provide their aircraft handling skills to various aviation events every flying season. Many of the Ramp Rats have prior military experience with a background in aircraft maintenance, air operations, or are current pilots.
In the beginning…
The roots of SRS began in 1981 with the Marshalling Detachment of the Commemorative Air Force at a warbird airshow in Columbus, Indiana. By 1983, SRS was officially established. In July of 1999, SRS became a division of the World Wars Aircraft Museum, located at the Mt. Comfort airport in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Since 1983, SRS has amassed over 500 collective years of flight line and aircraft handling experience, and has provided flightline qualified professionals to over 175 aviation events from small fly-ins to large-scale airshows.
Since their inception, SRS has maintained roster of at least 20 dedicated members, with a peak membership size of over 40 highly qualified personnel. Many current members of SRS are second, and even third generation Ramp Rats. SRS is very much a family oriented organization, and they are always looking for new members to join the family.
The Ramp Rats have regularly scheduled training sessions for all of its members, where each member must be certified before they are allowed to handle aircraft. This mandatory training is provided to all SRS members wishing to become ramp certified. No previous flightline experience is required. The only prerequisite is a desire and a passion for aircraft.
Only well established and long standing practices are employed. At the heart of these practices are the international marshaling hand signals as specified in U.S. Air Force Instruction 11-218, and also happen to be the Standard NATO hand signals used around the world. These established hand signals are used the majority of the time, however, there are special instances where additional hand signals are required, specifically with regard to older prop driven aircraft, such as warbirds. These additional hand signals are included as part of the Ramp Rats regular training.
For your reference and reading pleasure, below are a few documents that pertain specifically to the international marshaling hand signals and flightline safety.
Air Force Hand Signals AFI 11-218.pdf
CAP Hand Signals Aircraft Marshaling.doc
FAA Flightline Saftey MarchApril2005.pdf
Australian CASA Marshaling.pdf
There are a few things to consider if you have an interest in becoming a Ramp Rat. Working on the flightline is demanding. It’s not uncommon for SRS members to be on their feet for 14 to 16 hours a day. Add to this the summer heat, events that usually run for 3-4 days, and it doesn’t take long to realize that a good pair of shoes or boots is an absolute must. Working on the flightline is not necessarily a physically strenuous job, but you are constantly moving.
Not all Ramp Rats that attend an airshow or fly-in work the entire show, nor is it mandatory. SRS understands that people have jobs and other commitments that may preclude them from working a particular event. This is not a problem. Because of the number of SRS members, fulfilling the manpower commitment of an airshow has never been a problem. For a typical 2-day airshow, the show usually requires ramp personnel for 4 days; aircraft arrivals on day 1, practice on day 2, and the actual airshow takes place on days 3 and 4. Some Ramp Rats will even stay over for one more day after the event to launch aircraft for the return trip home.