by Tech. Sgt. Kent Kagarise
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
A-10C 79-0118 from the 303rd Fighter Squadron taxis to the runway, Oct. 24, for its first takeoff since June when it landed with its gear up. The 442nd Maintenance Group is responsible for the quick repair of the aircraft making it safe for flight in less than four months. The 442nd Fighter Wing is an Air Force Reserve unit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. James Kirksey)
12/8/2011 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Oct. 24, Aircraft 79-118 performed its first functional flight check after landing gear-up June 30.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II, assigned to the 442nd Fighter Wing here, returned from its approximate one-hour flight with zero discrepancies - a testament of hard work and dedication to the many maintainers who worked diligently for four months to repair the jet.
After taking a hard landing that day, the aircraft was lifted on a 40-foot flatbed trailer and hauled off the flightline into 5-bay A-10 hangar.
The aircraft was parked in the hangar for approximately three weeks while a safety investigation was conducted.
Maintainers in the inspection phase section; the repair and reclamation shop; and the aircraft's dedicated crew chief were responsible for unusually quick repair of the A-10.
"We basically had to start from scratch and go through every part of the aircraft with a fine-tooth comb," said Tech. Sgt. Mike Schuler, 442nd Maintenance Squadron phase-dock crew chief.
During the inspection and repair process, the maintainers were tasked with finding replacement parts, ordering and painting the components to meet Air Force regulations.
"The A-10 is unique in that each plane has its own finger print, which can make it difficult when you're taking parts from one aircraft fit another," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Yates, 442nd MXS phase-dock crew chief.
Cannibalizing aircraft components from a non-functional A-10 to one that is in need of repair allows the Air Force to save money on fully-functional components - but sometimes those parts need minor maintenance. Most of the parts that arrived for AC 79-118 had been painted green.
"Some of these components may have been sitting dormant for 25 years because the A-10 was painted gray in the mid-'80s," said Master Sgt. Tyler Bane, 442nd MXS Repair and Reclamation shop chief. "But they are all fully-functional components."
Each component, as well as the aircraft, undergoes rigerous inspection throughout the repair and reclamation process.
"It's pretty incredible when you think about it," Yates said. "It's not like a car that undergoes a 100-point inspection - it's more like a 10,000 point inspection."
There is a great sense of accomplishment and pride within the team that it took a little more than three months to get the plane flying again - and the dedicated crew chief of aircraft 79-118, Staff Sgt. Robert Bagby, is one person maintenance recognized as playing a vital role in the successful turnover of the aircraft.
"He oversaw all the maintenance performed on the aircraft to get it back to a safe, flyable condition," said Capt. Rob Mehan, Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. "His attention to detail was crucial during the repair process."
When the aircraft first landed gear up, maintenance supervision asked Bagby and Schuler how long it would take to get the aircraft back in the air -- they projected October.
"We were really proud to be able to do what we said we could," Schuler said.
Major malfunctions are rare on the Warthog, but when they happen, the 442nd Fighter Wing maintainers are there to get these A-10s back in to the combat-readiness status.
A-10C 79-0118 taxis to the runway, Oct. 24, for its first takeoff since June when it landed with its gear up. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. James Kirksey)
Note: Hi-res photos are currently not available.
"Hot" screenshot of the news article, already published some days ago in the December 2011 online PDF issue of "Mohawk", the 442nd Fighter Wing's official newspaper. (Sreenhot by Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor) Full size
Original photo caption of the large background picture:
THUNDERBOLT REPAIRS / Photo by Staff Sgt. Tracy Brown. After landing with its gear up in June, Aircraft tail number 79-9118 performed a functional flight check, Oct. 24, and landed code one with zero discrepancies. While many shops contributed to its quick repair, the 442nd Maintenance Squadron Reclamation Shop worked on its removal from the flightline in June and headed up the inspection and repair process. Here, the aircraft is photographed a few months before it's gear-up landing.
Note: A-10C 79-0118 is also "called" as 79-9118 (maybe just a typo) in the caption headlines of the photos above. According to the PDF version, they are courtesy of Master Sgt. James Kirksey, 442nd Maintenance Group Quality Assurance.