MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Alabama —
With a wingspan of approximately 132 feet, it takes a team effort to keep the 908th Airlift Wing’s fleet of C-130H Hercules in top operating condition. The 908th AW’s commitment to remain mission ready requires the 908th Maintenance Squadron to have approximately 22 full-time maintainers and 126 traditional reserve maintainers to meet demand.
Due to the complex nature of tactical airlift aircraft like the C-130H Hercules, it is critical that the 908th MXS have dedicated workshops for different areas of expertise. This allows each section to focus on perfecting their specialty and paying extreme attention to detail in every component of the aircraft.
C-130s require an isochronous inspection every 540 calendar days. An isochronous inspection is a much deeper inspection than maintainers would normally do on a day-to-day basis. It is rare for heads of different sections to work side by side; however, an ISO inspection is so thorough that it requires all sections to be met at the same time.
One of these sections is the repair and recovery workshop.
Staff Sgt. Anthony McGill, 908th MXS crew chief and NCO in charge of the R&R shop, said they had three main focuses: flight controls, tires and doors. Since the R&R shop focuses on many areas of the aircraft, parts range from nuts and bolts to 56-inch diameter tires.
But just because they have their own specialty doesn’t mean they work alone.
“We work with the engine shop when it comes to tuning the engine and throttle controls,” McGill said. “We also coordinate with the aircraft’s hydraulic system section and the guidance and control system section with respect to landing gear and flight controls.”
The term flight controls is quite broad. The primary flight control system consists of conventional ailerons, elevator (or stabilizer), and rudder system. Major components are required to control an aircraft safely during flight. Meanwhile, wing flaps, leading edge devices, spoilers and trim systems are all part of the secondary control system and are used to improve overall performance.
These controls can only be used via the pilot’s pedals, control stick and other systems in the cockpit. Airmen in the R&R shop will work on these systems that connect to wing components.
Sitting on a platform over 30 feet in the air working on one of the aforementioned wings, Master Sgt. Darrell Jackson, 908th MXS Aerospace Propulsion Mechanic. While removing some thermocouples from inside the wing engine, he took the time to explain the importance of the component to the aircraft.
“These thermocouples send a signal to the cockpit to inform the pilots and the flight engineer of turbine inlet temperatures,” Jackson said. “We often remove and test these components to make sure they work. If they don’t test well enough for our standards, we replace them with new ones.
These signals sent from the wing go directly to the parts that McGill was working on in the cockpit.
But, before McGill can even reach the landing gear components to work on them, he must coordinate with airmen from the plane’s hydraulic system shop, like Staff Sgt. Blayze Franklin, 908th MXS hydraulics specialist and the section’s senior air reserve technician.
“We in the hydraulic shop need to work closely with the engine shop maintainers since our systems connect to theirs,” Franklin said. “Then we will work with the repair and recovery shop on the front axles, as all the front axle steering components are ours, but they specialize in the cables that control it.”
Franklin said he is grateful for the time spent with other sections during ISO inspections.
“We don’t really work together as much when we’re on the flight line outside of drive-time inspections,” Franklin said. “I’m grateful that the aircraft has so many moving parts, which allows us to work with the other sections during isochronous inspections, because everyone is really respectful of each other. We all work very well together and we help each other.”
Since it is vital that these parts of the aircraft work in perfect sync, it is important that the maintainers in each section work in the same way. Having maintainers capable of ensuring the repair and proper operation of the various components and systems of the 908th AW’s C-130H Hercules is how the 908th AW is able to remain flight ready and mission fit.