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Kicking off maintenance training with help of only ANG T-37

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jessica Q. Hill
  • 179 AW
      When scrolling through a list of Air National Guard assets, the 179th Airlift Wing stands out from the rest by owning the ANG's only T-37 aircraft. While this may not immediately make sense due to the 179th's present C-130H mission and the impending transition to the C-27Js, it is actually the Maintenance Squadron's way of taking care of its own.
      MXS obtained the aircraft to help launch their Airframe and Power (A&P) Plant, which will allow members a chance to be certified to complete maintenance on civilian aircraft. Program manager, Master Sgt. Todd S. Macaulay explained that the A&P is the first time the Federal Aviation Association and the military have worked together to train mechanics. He noted that while A&P is a popular program in active duty Air Force, it is a new program in the Guard. "The program is the only one in the Guard that we know of," he stated.
      With MXS staffing numbers up in the air while the 179th awaits its new manning documents for the upcoming C27J mission, the A&P will give members a new career opportunity in the civilian sector. Col. Leonard D. Sipe, Maintenance Squadron Commander, is hoping this will give his members something to do once the wing's current aircraft are gone and will enable them to be more well rounded maintainers.
"It will help keep [the members] maintenance skills sharp," Macaulay added.
In order to get the A&P up and running, the 179th needed to secure an aircraft that members enrolled in the training could practice and certify on. For this, Macaulay and four other senior enlisted MXS members travelled to Sheppard AFB, Texas, and brought back a T-37.
      Macaulay, Senior Master Sgt. David W. Schaefer, Senior Master Sgt. Gary L. Myers, Master Sgt. David R. Mruk and Master Sgt. Andrew J. Mortimer disassembled the aircraft, loaded it onto a semi truck and hauled it back to Ohio.
      Macaulay noted that the reasons behind the acquisition of the T-37 were simple. "We were allowed to have it, it is not a complex airplane and it was free," he said.
      The aircraft did not come without strings though. The 179th AW is required to maintain it as a viable aircraft. This will be done as part of the A&P, Macaulay explained.
"(The A&P) is a lot like (on-the job training) OJT," Macaulay explained. "People in the program need to test and certify to be eligible to work on aircraft."
      In order to be eligible to enter the A&P program, members need to hold a minimum of a 5-level training in certain Maintenance AFSCs and have four years time-in-service. Nearly all MXS AFSCs are able to participate in the program.
      "We also have seven people who have previously obtained their A&P licenses," Macaulay said. This is a way for older maintainers to pass on their knowledge to younger members, he added. "Why not kill two birds with one stone," he said concerning certifying members for both military and civilian aircraft maintenance.
      Major Kurt S. Blankenship, MOF Commander, who had previous completed the A&P program off base agreed with Macaulay on the positive impact the A&P program could have on members. "It is a very valuable program," he said. "It allows an easy transition into maintaining aircraft in the civilian world."
      With the 179th Airlift Wing's long history of excellence and going beyond what is required, one can be sure the A7P program will produce outstanding civilian maintainers. These maintainers will surely help to further spread the word about the great accomplishments and attitude of going "above and beyond" at the 179th.