Motorcycle safety course available at Columbus AFB, opportunity to become a trainer

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jake Jacobsen
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Summer time can be a popular time for motorcyclist, and for members of Team Blaze that want to ride their bikes on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, they first must check in with the base safety office.

Columbus AFB offers a motorcycle safety course. This course is organized by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and is required by Air Force Instruction 91-207 “The US Air Force Traffic Safety
Program” that all active-duty members complete the basic rider course or equivalent to operate a motorcycle on base.

The basic rider course is free on base and is offered to military members, dependents and retirees. Columbus AFB also extends the opportunity to civilians who work on Columbus AFB when there is room in the class.

In order to attend the course, or ride on base in general, a rider must have a motorcycle, sturdy over the ankle footwear, long pants, long sleeve shirt or jacket, full fingered gloves, a DOT approved helmet, and for eye protection either a full face shield, wrap around style sunglasses or googles.

There are three rider coaches that volunteer to teach the course here. They teach both the basic rider course and refresher training course for seasoned riders seeking a reminder of the basics. To find the next available class and register, people can call 662-434-2522.

If riders have a motorcycle and took a safety course before coming to the base, as long as the course met the intent of the basic rider course based off the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, they do not have to retake the course. However, they still need to contact the safety office and upload their information.

A unique opportunity that exist here, that Airmen won’t find at many other installations, is the chance to become a riding instructor.

In March, John Lindell, the 14th Flying Training Wing occupational weapons safety manager and a riding instructor, completed an instructor training course, so he could teach others how become an instructor for the basic rider course.

“Providing this course to create coaches is a far more cost efficient way of doing things rather than paying contractors to come out and teach it,” Lindell said. “With people volunteering to teach these students how to ride there is a sense of community as members of the base help each other learn as fellow riders.”

After his training, Lindell trained three volunteers in the rider coach preparation course on Columbus AFB. They are now able to teach the basic rider course.

The basic rider course starts as if the students have never ridden a motorcycle before. It teaches the basics of controls and the difference between two-wheeled and four-wheeled vehicles. The course teaches participants how to competently ride including skills such as turning from a stop sign, limited space maneuvering, quick stopping and swerving. This is followed up with a skills evaluation at the end of the course to pass.

The classroom portion of the course is held in the wing headquarters building on the weekends while the hands on portion is conducted on the SAC ramp at the north end of the air field. A maximum of 12 students can be taught on the ramp at any given time.

“The things we learned in the class were geared toward how to teach other people,” said Michael Mangus, the 14th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s Vehicle Management flight chief. “This included skills like how to present the material and what drills to incorporate in our lessons. All we are really doing is laying down the ground work for these new riders to continue to build their skills and work on safety.”

A notable obstacle Lindell faced was getting everyone the time off to teach the rider coach preparation course. Since the course is set to be a week long, five days of learning how to teach the course and then two days actually teaching the course to students as a final exam, the potential coaches needed to find time off work to attend the classes.

Lindell also noted that even if someone doesn’t ride a motorcycle, they still have a responsibility to be vigilant of riders when driving. Because in most cases, an accident will be a lot more costly for the rider than for the person driving a car.