Local maintenance team selected for unique assignment

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Nicole Langley
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
While many are unaware of the role of crew chiefs at Dover Air Force Base, this group of skilled maintenance members plays an invaluable role each day to ensure that Team Dover's aircraft are ready to fly.

From working on the engines, conducting maintenance tests, refueling, servicing, maintaining forms documentation and configuring aircraft for different types of missions, crew chiefs do a little bit of everything to ensure the jets are mission capable.

Recently, a three-person team of crew chiefs from the 736th and 712th Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons carried out a special mission for Dover AFB prior to the delivery of the base's brand-new C-17 Globemaster III.

The team, which consisted of Tech Sgt. Fred Potts, 712th AMXS, Staff Sgt. Lance Moon and Senior Airman Adam Olson, 736th AMXS, traveled to Boeing's Long Beach, Calif., C-17 production facility nearly two weeks before the aircraft's delivery date, where they worked alongside Boeing and Defense Contract Management Agency personnel to perform the Air Force's final acceptance inspections.

"No one really sees what goes into making things like this happen, and I was proud to share in the work," said Airman Olson.

That type of motivation was part of the reason Airman Olson and the other two crew chiefs were chosen for this special assignment.

These Airmen were selected for a variety of reasons, including attitude, experience and technical competence, explained Lt. Col. Raymond Briggs, 736th AMXS commander.
"This was our only chance to make a first impression with Boeing and DCMA," said the squadron commander. "Tech Sgt. Potts, Staff Sgt. Moon and Senior Airman Olson left a great first impression."

Since the crew chiefs had to conduct inspections on the Spirit of the Constitution before it was an official Dover AFB asset, they were not able to do any of the work themselves, but identified items that needed to be taken care of, which were then handled by Boeing's maintenance team.

"Doing the inspection at Long Beach, rather than waiting until it gets to Dover, saves time and allows us to generate our first mission immediately upon arrival," explained Colonel Briggs.

At Long Beach, the Dover crew chiefs augmented DCMA, an agency within the DoD that is responsible for ensuring federal acquisition programs - including systems, supplies and services - are delivered on time, within projected cost and meet performance requirements.

"Our purpose was to inspect the aircraft to ensure it was safe to fly and to assure the quality of the product the U.S. Air Force was receiving," explained Airman Olson.
"We searched the jet tip to tail," added Sergeant Potts.

The crew chiefs, whose experience with C-17s ranges from less than a year to four years, were slightly intimidated at first about the job they would be doing at Long Beach, said Sergeant Potts.

However, once they realized that they would be doing ordinary pre-and post-flight inspections, they realized there was no need to worry.

"Mentally, we went out there prepared," said Sergeant Potts.

The crew not only performed inspections at Long Beach, but also got right to work when the aircraft landed at McGuire AFB, N.J., before it was flown to Dover for the June 4 ceremony.

"At McGuire, the team performed a basic post-flight inspection and coordinated inspections by various specialties, such as pressurizing the fuel tanks and ensuring our flare systems were operational," Airman Olson said.

Sergeant Potts, an Air Reserve Technician who works Monday through Friday in his civilian uniform, had 10-years experience working on the C-5 Galaxy prior to transitioning to C-17s early this year.

"To be able to be part of the C-17 coming to Dover, I thought was a once in a lifetime, once in a career move." said Sergeant Potts, who was the senior maintainer on the trip and led the inspection. "I was thrilled!"

Airman Olson, who previously worked on C-5s and completed his C-17 training this spring, expressed his enthusiasm about being part of this team.

"The experience gave me a sense that no matter what your age or rank may be, if you work hard and do your best, you can achieve special things," he said.

Sergeant Moon worked on C-17s when he began his Air Force career in 1997, but in 2002 began a special-duty assignment as a military training instructor that lasted nearly four years. In July 2006, he arrived at Dover AFB and returned to the maintenance world.
Due to being away from the C-17 for a few years, Sergeant Moon completed two weeks of hands-on training, known as 'seasonal training,' at McGuire AFB.

Sergeant Moon, who was selected as the 'dedicated crew chief' for the Spirit of the Constitution, will be responsible for ensuring the jet is safe for flight and mission ready at all times.
"Being hand-picked to get the first C-17 home, and then finding out I was chosen as the dedicated crew chief for the first C-17 was the most memorable part of this whole experience," explained the sergeant.

Although their unique experience came to an end June 4, this team of crew chiefs is just beginning a high-paced schedule in Dover's newest squadrons, maintaining the C-17.