Keeping Them Flying

  • Published
  • By MSGT Vincent De Groot
  • 185th ARW Public Affairs
 Having both wings attached to the airplane is an important thing to a pilot. That is how Col. Jeffery Higgins of Tinker Air Force base described one of the important aspects of Depot maintenance performed at Tinker Air Force base. "The Air National Guard KC-135 is our biggest customer," said Col Higgins. "We want to provide a quality product in a timely manner", he added. The product is an aircraft that is ready to fly.

The work most recently done by Depot Maintenance for the 185th Air Refueling Wing went so well that the commander of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Maj. General David Gillett, came along for the ride when the aircraft was returned to Sioux City. Col Brian Miller, the Wing Commander of the 185th, said he was thrilled with the process. "The 185th is pleased that Depot is putting out a quality product and beating time lines. We think events like this build a strong team - this is what it's all about. It is a great honor to have Gen Gillett here to visit the 185th," said Miller.

That team aspect was commonly reiterated by the visiting staff from Tinker and from the 185th during the general's visit. Keeping the fleet of eight aircraft from Sioux City flying is of particular interest to all involved. In airplanes, as in life, good maintenance starts at home. Maj. Shawn Streck, the 185th ARW Maintenance Squadron Commander, had high praise for the people in Sioux City who take care of the aircraft every day. "We give them (Depot) a quality product. Our guys pay meticulous attention to the airplane. Our guys are often with that aircraft for a long time - 10 or more years. They have considerable ownership," said Streck when referring to what condition the aircraft is in before it goes to Depot maintenance.

The team effort is built on by Tinker's open invitation to members of the wing to come and be a part of the process during the time the aircraft is being inspected. The maintainer who is primarily responsible for the aircraft can then walk through the process with a representative from Tinker and make on the spot corrections. This phase in the maintenance process was created by Depot to encourage involvement from the wings and to shorten the time an aircraft spends away from home.

With the particular aircraft that General Gillett escorted back to Sioux City, the total time the aircraft was unavailable was 139 days. For those in the know, that is a big deal, considering that the time allowed for this kind of maintenance is usually much longer.

The stated goal of the maintenance process is: "Reduce aircraft downtime on active flying schedule with a minimum delay and to provide you with a safe, reliable, combat capable aircraft that meets your schedule and quality standards". This is exactly what was produced when aircraft tail number 57-2606 was recently returned to Sioux City, with both wings attached.

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