Maintenance flight helps aircrew take the fight north
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Everyone in the Wolf Pack plays a role in taking the fight north. However, when it comes to getting birds in the sky, one unit in the 8th Maintenance Squadron has a unique mission.
The 8th MXS maintenance flight encompasses multiple duty sections, which include a tire shop, aerospace propulsion, crash damage, aircraft recovery and phase.
“I think our flight is different in a sense that we are more hands on with the aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Lance Humphrey, 8th MXS phase section chief. “The rest of MXS involves more of a supporting role.”
The tire section is responsible for the tires aircraft need to take off and land.
“We’re the meat and potatoes when it comes to tires for the Wolf Pack,” said Master Sgt. Craig Dawdy, 8th MXS crash damage and disabled aircraft recovery chief. “Our biggest job is to ensure that we get tires from the aircraft maintenance units, break them down, rebuild them and get them returned as soon as possible.”
Along with aircraft tires, the maintenance flight also has a propulsion section, which controls and maintains all of the inbound and outbound F-16 Fighting Falcon engines on base.
“Our flight always has to be on call if there is an emergency during flight,” Humphrey said.
The aerospace propulsion section checks the serviceability of the engines and performs the repairs necessary to remedy the situation so planes can get back in the air to fly, fight and win.
“When we look at the engine’s integrity, we ensure everything is tight and nothing is loose,” said Tech. Sgt. Rowland Thagard, 8th MXS assistant propulsion section chief. “We also pull out engine components if something is leaking or cracked. We’ll use our technical orders to replace that item and get the engine up and running again.”
The propulsion section is also the liaison between the centralized repair facility at Misawa Air Base, Japan, and various maintenance shops at Kunsan.
“For every engine we can fix here without having to send it to Misawa, it saves the Air Force $33 thousand,” Thagard said. “When engines go to Misawa that we can’t fix, they take the engines apart, fix them and send them back, which costs an additional $33 thousand. We also save the maintainers at Misawa from several weeks, if not months, of man hours by repairing F-16 engines ourselves.”
Another mission the propulsion section has that saves money is the operation of the hush house. The hush house is an engine test facility that is similar to a sound booth in a musical production studio. It keeps all of the sound inside of the facility to prevent any noise from being heard outside.
Along with having a section that maintains and services engines, the maintenance flight has another section that provides transient services to incoming aircraft assigned to Kunsan and other U.S. bases.The transient alert aspect involves responding to aircraft that have emergency landings.
“The services we provide involve responding to various incidents and scenarios,” Dawdy said. “It could range from leading an aircraft to a parking spot to refueling and performing general inspections on the aircraft to ensure they are ready for flight. We want to make sure those aircraft arrive and depart the airfield as safely as possible.”
In addition to ensuring aircraft arrive and depart as safely as possible, the maintenance flight also has a phase section, which ensures the safety of aircrew and the serviceability of aircraft.
“The Airmen have to take their time and make sure everything the aircraft needs is available,” said Master Sgt. Andrew Wilson, 8th MXS phase support section chief. “There is a lot of attention to detail.”
“The F-16 is like a wolf they give us to take the fight north,” Thagard said. “The maintenance flight makes the wolf howl. The enemy knows that it’s not the howl you have to worry about. It’s the bite.”