Selfridge Maintainers Practice ‘Air Lift’

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Air Force aircraft maintenance specialists need to be ready for problems both large and small - including the potential for a terrorist attack on an aircraft. Maintainers at Selfridge Air National Guard Base prepped for just such a scenario in August with an exercise that saw them use a crane to simulate lifting the nose of a KC-135 Stratotanker.

"In this exercise, we simulated an aircraft running off the end of the runway and having damaged nose gear due to a terrorist grenade," said Senior Master Sgt. Doug Firman, a member of the 191st Maintenance Squadron at Selfridge, which conducted the exercise. The 191st is charged with maintaining Selfridge's fleet of KC-135s, an aerial refueling tanker.

"So we have two issues, number one, we need to recover the aircraft," he said. "Number two and probably more importantly, is we need to get the aircraft to a place where we can re-open the runway and allow the field to be an active airfield."

In the exercise, the aircraft was unable to taxi or be moved by conventional means because of the "damaged" nose gear. The maintainers worked with the base's civil engineering department to utilize a large crane to simulate lifting the nose. Other maintenance troops filled a series of air bladders to support the tail-end of the aircraft when the crane was looped around the nose.

"This utilizes every specialty in our shop," said TSgt. Mark Emmendorfer, who was the CDDAR - crash damaged/disabled aircraft recovery -- team leader for the Airmen recovering the aircraft during the exercise. "This is a project we could be called on to do here at home field or abroad if we were in a deployed situation and there was an attack or other problem that damaged an aircraft."

Emmendorfer said the disabled aircraft exercise is an annual requirement for the maintenance squadron and each year the squadron creates a different scenario in an effort to expand their skills.