Sunday, September 11, 2011

Controlling corrosion one coat at a time

by Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/9/2011 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- "A little to the left," says Staff Sgt. Thomas Klosky, 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control day-shift leader, as he supervises the placement of a vinyl decal on the back end of an A-10. He and a group of 355th EMS corrosion control members stand at the bottom of a staircase ladder looking on as their newest Airman, Airman 1st Class Nathan Burner, attempts to satisfy the contradicting directions he is being given.

"He's the new guy so you know we have to tease him," Sergeant Klosky says. "Okay, move it up. Now down. Tilt it just a little. More. Now less. No, I'm just kidding you got it."

The camaraderie in the office creates a relaxed atmosphere in which fun can foster. But that doesn't make the mission any less important.

"Here at the 355th EMS corrosion control unit, we ensure structural integrity on the aircraft and keep them looking good," said Senior Airman Morgan Jacobs, 355th EMS aircraft structural maintenance journeyman.

In short, they paint the planes. And while the paint on an aircraft may not sound too important, it serves a vital purpose.

"Most of what we do is paint; everyone knows that," Sergeant Klosky said. "But what they don't know is that paint helps protect the aircraft from the elements. And it has to be kept up because if it isn't, those elements will get in there, cause corrosion and make the planes fall apart."

A paint job can mean anywhere from one panel to an entire A-10C,.

"We do everything," Airman Jacobs said. "We do the initial prep work, then we sand the entire aircraft down and give it a completely new paint job."

The painting of an A-10 takes approximately 15 gallons of paint and 3 gallons of primer. The process is done in six stages and takes about two weeks.

"After we sand it, we wash it and give it a coat of primer," Sergeant Klosky said. "After that dries we mask it, which is when we cover all the parts that we don't want stained. Then we paint the aircraft, and the final touch is stenciling on the squadron patch.

The chemicals used during the resurfacing of an aircraft are considered hazardous, so the corrosion control Airmen must suit up before they can accomplish their task.

"Our painting gear consists of a head sock, full-face respirator, protective suit, gloves and paint boots," Sergeant Klosky said.

As a supervisor in the corrosion control unit, Sergeant Klosky takes pride in the condition of each and every aircraft they send out of their hangar and his Airmen feel the same.

"The best part of my job is painting the planes," said Airman 1st Class Clint Black, 355th EMS aircraft maintenance journeyman. "Whenever they fly by you get to tap the nearest person on the shoulder and say 'hey, I painted that.'"

Airman Black, still wearing his respirator, washes his painting tools at the cleaning station after completing work on an A-10.

"Give us the Blue Steel look," Sergeant Klosky calls. The other Airmen join in, calling for the look, which is clearly a crowd favorite.

Suddenly Airman Black turns his face towards the crowd and gives them what they want.

Laughter abounds as he goes back to cleaning his tools. No one could ever say the 355th EMS corrosion control unit is all work and no play, but between the laughs they make sure that D-M's aircrafts are ready to fly, fight, and win.


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