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Altus airmen refresh motorcycle safety training

ALTUS, Okla._Former and current Altus airmen took to the road while hosting a motorcycle rally in an effort to refresh their airmen on safe riding practices.

After an hour of safety courses, novice riders were paired up with more experienced mentors for a training ride across Southwest Oklahoma.

At the Altus Air Force Base, their top three priorities are airmen, family and mission. Friday's motorcycle course was done to ensure the safety of all three.

"There are many high risk activities. Some might say flying is a high risk activity, but you mitigate that risk," said Colonel Bill Spangenthal.

Colonel Spangenthal says whether he's taking to the skies or to the road, safety is his top priority.

"Motorcycle safety is important to everyone, but we see that as a higher-risk activity and so it requires a little extra training to make sure they're prepared for anything they see on the road,” said Col. Spangenthal.

When it comes to a safe ride, retired airman and safety instructor Leon Pike says being aware of your surroundings and watching for potential dangers is key.

"'SEE' it's an acronym for 'Search, Evaluate and Execute.' So, as they're riding along, they're looking for different things that can cause a hazard to them. That's a 'search.' Then they 'evaluate.' Is that car going to pull out in front of me? Are they going to do this? And 'execute.' What am I going to do if that happens," explained Pike.

Pike emphasized that this type of knowledge comes from experience. So, during Friday's mentor ride, the group made frequent stops to talk about what they saw for hands-on learning. Benjamin Brown volunteered as a mentor and says having someone with that knowledge and experience is what helped him when he first started riding.

"Having somebody that could actually give you that feedback while we're actually riding and somebody to look up to, somebody with that experience. Somebody you can believe in and you can trust. It was very important because sometimes people just go out there and try to do what they see on TV or YouTube or something and you get in a world of hurt," said Brown.

But Pike says it's not just these novice riders who need the refresher. He says as riders get more experience, they often get complacent in taking safety measures they simply can't afford to do while on their bikes.

"Motorcycling is fun, but it's also risky and it's something you have to accept. That there's a risk involved," said Pike.

Instructors also referenced the recent accident in Stephens County where a truck crossed into the same lane as 13 motorcycles. They suggest riding in smaller groups and keeping enough space between riders to make a quick escape, should something go wrong.

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