MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
With a wingspan of about 132 feet, it requires a team effort to keep the 908th Airlift Wing’s fleet of C-130H Hercules in excellent working condition. The 908th AW’s commitment to staying mission ready requires the 908th Maintenance Squadron have around 22 full-time maintainers and 126 traditional reservist maintainers to fulfill the demand.
Due to the complex nature of tactical airlift aircraft like the C-130H Hercules, it is vital that the 908th MXS have shops dedicated to different areas of expertise. This is so each section can focus on honing their specialty and paying extreme attention to detail on every aircraft component.
C-130’s require an isochronal inspection every 540 calendar days. An isochronal inspection is a much more in-depth inspection than what the maintainers would normally do on a daily basis. It is rare for maintainers in different sections to work alongside one another; however, an ISO inspection is so in-depth that it requires all of the sections to come together at once.
One of those sections is the repair and reclamation shop.
Master Sgt. Anthony McGill, a 908th MXS crew chief and the noncommissioned officer in charge of the R & R shop, said they have three main focuses: Flight controls, tires, and doors. Since the R & R shop focuses on so many areas of the aircraft, parts range from nuts and bolts to 56-inch diameter tires.
But, just because they have their own specialty does not mean that they work alone.
“We work with the engine shop when it comes to rigging the engine and throttle controls,” said McGill. “We also coordinate with the aircraft hydraulics system section and the guidance and control system section when it comes to landing gears and flight controls.”
The term flight controls is quite broad. The primary flight control system consists of conventional ailerons, elevator (or stabilator), and rudder system. The main components are required to control an aircraft safely during flight. Meanwhile, the wing flaps, leading edge devices, spoilers, and trim systems are all a part of the secondary control system and are used to improve the overall performance.
These controls can only be utilized via the pilot’s foot pedals, control stick, and other systems in the flight deck. The Airmen from the R & R shop will work on these systems that connect up to the components in the wings.
Seated on a platform more than 30 feet in the air working on one of the aforementioned wings is Staff Sgt. Darrell Jackson, a 908th MXS aerospace propulsion mechanic. While removing some thermocouples from inside the wing’s engine, he took the time to explain the importance of the aircraft component.
“These thermocouples send a signal to the cockpit to let the pilots and flight engineer know what the turbine-inlet temperatures are,” said Jackson. “We remove and test these components often to ensure they are working. If they are not giving test results good enough for our standards then we replace them with new ones.”
Those signals being sent by the wing go straight to the parts that McGill was working on in the flight deck.
But, before McGill can even reach the components in the landing gear to work on them, he has to coordinate with Airmen from the aircraft hydraulics system shop like Staff Sgt. Blayze Franklin, a 908th MXS hydraulics specialist and the section’s senior Air Reserve Technician.
“We in the hydraulics shop have to work closely with the maintainers in the engine shop since our systems connect to theirs,” said Franklin. “Then we will work with the repair and reclamation shop on the nose gears since all of the steering components on the nose gear are ours but they specialize in the cables that control it."
Franklin said he is thankful for the time spent with the other sections during the ISO inspections.
“We don’t really get to work together as much when we’re on the flight line outside of isochronal inspections,” said Franklin. “I’m thankful that the aircraft has so many moving parts to where we are able to work with the other sections during isochronal inspections because everyone is really respectful of each other. We all work very well together and help each other."
Since it is vital that these parts of the aircraft work in perfect synchronicity, it is important that the maintainers in each section work the same way. Having maintainers that are able to ensure the proper repair and function of the various components and systems of the 908th AW’s C-130H Hercules are how the 908th AW is able to stay flight ready and mission capable.