Selfridge A-10s: Painted with Pride

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Corrosion control. Camouflage in the sky. Even a slight improvement in aerodynamics. All of these are reasons to paint a military aircraft, but maybe not the most important reason.

"The biggest thing is pride, really. We want our aircraft to look the best," said Technical Sgt. Arnie Collins, a member of the 127th Maintenance Squadron sheet metal shop at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. "I mean, you can fly it no matter what it looks like, but that's not the attitude we want to take We take pride in our equipment and our aircraft."

On this day in the sheet metal shop's painting bay, a large centerline tank from an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft has been sanded down and is getting ready for a fresh coat of gray paint. The A-10s don't fly with the centerline tank - which is used as an additional external fuel tank - very often. They are generally only used on trips overseas or other very long trips. The tanks are never used in a combat situation.

Like just about anything though, when exposed to the weather the centerline tanks needs a little care and attention, just like the rest of the aircraft. And so, today is the day one of them is getting a fresh coat of paint.

"It is about a 3-day process," explained Airman 1st Class Dan Butcher, a sheet metal worker for the 127th. "We spend two days sanding it down and prepping it, then a day to paint it."

Butcher said once the tank is painted, the paint needs 72 hours to cure before it is ready to fly.

Butcher, who has worked as a union iron worker in his civilian job while not serving in the Air National Guard, said the prep work on any paint job is the most important part of the job.

"You want to sand it down as smooth as possible, tape off any areas that aren't to be painted," said Butcher, who has been in the Guard at Selfridge for about three years. "It isn't the hardest job, you just need to take your time and do it right the first time."

Airman 1st Class Mitchell Groh is another sheet metal worker at Selfridge. He said working on aircraft and serving in the Air National Guard - he's been in for about a year and a half - has helped to give him additional experience as he is beginning his civilian career. He currently works at an auto parts store and is a student at Macomb Community College, where he is studying automotive engineering. Educational benefits from the Air National Guard are helping to pay for his college expenses, he said.

"I enjoy working with the aircraft. It is something that I otherwise would never get the chance to do," Groh said.