JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J –
An air traffic controller watch supervisor found himself representing the Air Force in a different capacity while in the midst of 20,000 cyclists pedaling across Iowa. Despite fighting fatigue from heat and exhaustion, he completed a grueling 500 miles of biking while assisting other cyclists with basic mechanical and first aid needs.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nathan Haney, a 305th Operations Support Squadron member, is
a part of the U.S. Air Force Cycling Team that participated in Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa in July.
“I love cycling,” Haney said. “I rode bicycles in college before I joined the Air Force, but I stopped doing the sport for a while. However, when COVID-19 happened, I was looking for a way to maintain my fitness and particularly be outdoors. It seemed like a great way to get back into the sport. I got myself a bike and have been riding avidly ever since.”
Haney joined the AFCT to challenge himself and help others. The AFCT has been dedicated to lending a helping hand in the seven-day RAGBRAI event since 1995. Each AFCT member is required to have experience road cycling, meet fitness requirements, and capable of providing basic aid to others.
Haney personally fixed more than 20 rider mechanical issues and rendered first aid to an individual suffering from heat exhaustion.
“It was really awesome to be there for so many people and help them when they were in need,” Haney said. “The Air Force Cycling Team has been participating in the event for a while now. They've built up a reputation as being the ‘guardian angels’ of the road. I can't even tell you how many times I heard, ‘Thank you, Air Force,’ or ‘God bless you, for all your help.’”
Though Haney found himself experiencing challenges of his own, he was still dedicated to helping RAGBRAI participants.
“There was very little shade because Iowa consists of flat land,” Haney said. “There were some days when I would have done anything for a cool shower. I was sweaty, exhausted, hungry and dehydrated all at once. But members of the team and just the positive vibes throughout the whole event really kept me going.”
Whether addressing cyclists at RAGBRAI or Airmen in his own shop, Haney has always been one to lend a helping hand to others.
“I was aware that Nate had taken up cycling and I was not in the least surprised that he joined the U.S. Air Force’s Cycling Team and likewise completing RAGBRAI, said Master Sgt. Andrew Kilbride, 305th OSS Radar Approach Control chief controller. “SSgt Haney has a hunger for challenges which is not uncommon of Air Traffic Controllers, but is particularly evident in this Airmen. He stands out as a leader in our organization because in the same way he approaches cycling he approaches his profession. His motivation and drive are key in yielding high results in every task he is given or seeks out. It is a joy to watch him learn, grow, and teach the next generation of Airmen.”
For more information on the AFCT, visit, https://afcycling.com.