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Member of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard receives 2015 Air National Guard Flight Safety Award

U.S. Air Force Capt. Mario Ibarra, flight safety officer of the 156th Airlift Wing, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, was recently awarded the Air National Individual Flight Safety Award for 2015. The Air National Guard Safety Award is a national level award issued annually to competing ANG members and organizations from around the nation that demonstrate a culture of safety excellence. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Christian Jadot)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Mario Ibarra, flight safety officer of the 156th Airlift Wing, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, was recently awarded the Air National Individual Flight Safety Award for 2015. The Air National Guard Safety Award is a national level award issued annually to competing ANG members and organizations from around the nation that demonstrate a culture of safety excellence. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Christian Jadot)

MUÑIZ AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Puerto Rico -- Capt. Mario G. Ibarra, 156th Airlift Wing Flight Safety Officer, is the recipient of the 2015 Air National Guard Individual Flight Safety Award. The Air National Guard Safety Award is a national level award issued annually to competing ANG members and organizations from around the nation that demonstrate a culture of safety excellence.

Capt. Ibarra created an award winning flight safety program that educates military and general aviation communities on national flight safety hazards with the focus of minimizing flight mishaps through interagency partnerships.

"The flight safety office is focused on keeping the troops trained in all the intricacies of flight safety," Capt. Ibarra said. "We try to do everything that we can do to make aviation, which is naturally unsafe, safer."

Through his innovative approach he contributed to the safety of the aviation community, Capt. Ibarra developed a Mid-Air Collision Avoidance poster that was distributed during airshows within Puerto Rico.  The MACA poster is the first tool created to depict high risk area of air traffic conflict around Puerto Rico based on historical aerial training trends that provide critical information to the local aviation community. 

"The same tools that we [the 156th AW] use can be transferred to the civilian community, it is a win-win situation for us all," Capt. Ibarra said. "We make useful products, like the mid-air collision avoidance poster, that should be shared with the civilian community as a way to integrate our program and help the general aviation community thrive here in Puerto Rico."

A key factor in conducting the safety outreach to the general aviation community was to educate civilian flyers on military flying procedures which also develop rapport, understanding and cooperation among the flying community.

"We let them know how we operate the C-130, our limitations, and how we employ military aircraft. Collaborating makes the aviation culture here in Puerto Rico safer," Capt. Ibarra said. "We need to create awareness due to heavy aircraft traffic flying around the island at any given time. Plus, we have our big C-130s often conducting training so it is important for the safety of everyone that we share critical information."

"On behalf of our entire Air National Guard safety team, it is an honor to work with and for you, as well as the exceptional Airman of the Air National Guard," said Lt. Col. Allison Miller, director of Air National Guard Safety. "It is the individuals and organizations that make our safety program the most successful in the Department of Defense."