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KC-135 aircraft boom instructor platform wins Spark Tank cup

Master Sgt. Bartek Bachleda (right), 22nd Air Refueling Wing aircraft boom operator, from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, briefs his idea to the Spark Tank panel during the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium, Orlando, Fla., Feb. 22, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Master Sgt. Bartek Bachleda (right), 22nd Air Refueling Wing aircraft boom operator, from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, briefs his idea to the Spark Tank panel during the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium, Orlando, Fla., Feb. 22, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

All Spark Tank finalists pose for a photo with members of the panel during the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium, Orlando, Fla., Feb. 22, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

All Spark Tank finalists pose for a photo with members of the panel during the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium, Orlando, Fla., Feb. 22, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Orlando, Fla. (AFNS) -- In every competition there can only be one who claims the title of “champion.” The Air Force Spark Tank competition is no different.

Master Sgt. Bartek Bachleda, 22nd Air Refueling Wing aircraft boom instructor, from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, won the inaugural Air Force Spark Tank competition cup at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium Feb. 22, 2018, in Orlando, Florida, for his KC-135 aircraft boom instructor platform idea.

“Every idea out there was amazing, it doesn’t matter what rank you are its innovation,” said Bachleda. “It’s either you got it or don’t, if you don’t… learn it and everyone can invent something.”

A panel comprised of Air Force senior leaders and industry partners decided on the fate of six finalists.

While there is only one winner, other spark tank ideas received funding or senior leader support to move ahead.

The completion started when Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson kicked off the Air Force’s Spark Tank competition last September. The competition was co-hosted between the Airmen Powered by Innovation program and the newly-announced AFwerX innovation ecosystem, which was conducted in a multi-step approach starting with participants submitting their ideas through the API website.

Even though only six ideas made the final cut, Bachleda wanted his fellow Airmen to know that if they have ideas on how to improve the Air Force they need to speak up and keep bringing them forward.

“I didn’t come her to win,” said Bachleda. “I wanted senior leadership to see this problem in front of them and explain to them that we can save the Air Force all this money.”

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