Clean aircraft vital to flying mission

by Senior Airman Whitney Stork
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Maintenance Airmen from around base join together several times a month to complete a mission essential task that takes days to complete.

Airmen from some Ramstein maintenance squadrons are tasked more than twice a month to wash C-130J Super Hercules to ensure there is no corrosion developing on the aircraft.

“One flight is asked to cover a shift a month,” said Staff Sgt. Rozilynn Breedlove-Stone, Precision Measurement Equipment Lab flight administration. “It’s a 12-hour shift for each aircraft they’re called out to wash.”

Each wash takes a total of 48 hours from start to finish with a team of 10 Airmen per shift.

“We get a safety brief, wash suit, face mask and double eye protection to ensure safety during the wash,” said Senior Airman Todd-Henri Rath, PMEL technician. “Each person is assigned a different section of the plane to wash.”

Aircraft washing is a vital part of the flying mission. If the aircraft were not washed they would begin to corrode and cause damage yielding it unsafe to operate.

“Corrosion control,” said Tech. Sgt. Seneca Williams, 86th Maintenance Squadron C-130J Super Hercules inspection maintenance coordinator. “Bugs, dirt, anything that’s not paint on the plane can cause corrosion. You want to make the plane last to keep a good product in the air.”

In fiscal year 2012, there were 30 aircraft that had to be washed taking more than 1,400 hours of manpower to complete. For each tasking, the squadrons try to use different Airmen so everyone can get the experience and understanding of how much work goes into each aircraft.

“It gives you a sense of appreciation for your job,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Kisely, 86th Maintenance Squadron crew chief. “Some squadrons don’t ever get to see or touch the planes so it’s a good opportunity for them to go out and see the way the rest of the maintenance squadron’s work.”