HomeNewsArticle Display

MacDill fab flight: “You break it, we fix it”

A KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft sits on the flightline at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 1, 2018.

A KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft sits on the flightline at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 1, 2018. MacDill is home to 24 KC-135s and provides rapid aerial refueling to enable worldwide operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan C. Grossklag)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The KC-135 Stratotanker has fueled missions around the globe for more than 60 years. Its long track record is a direct reflection of the tremendous work aircraft maintainers put into the jets, especially the 6th Maintenance Squadron Fabrication Flight at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., who push their pedal to the metal anytime a part demands fixing.

“Our main mission is to enable successful sorties by generating aircraft parts, ultimately maintaining our full spectrum readiness,” said 2nd Lt. Danilo Navo, fabrication flight commander. “Our team encounters new repairs that force changes in direction and orders, but they all adapt and constantly find ways to make sure the job gets done.”

Maintaining the aging aircraft can be challenging as some parts are no longer commercially produced and the fabrication flight must collaborate and innovate to construct parts on their own.

“We all need each other in order to complete a task and make sure operations are done correctly,” said Staff Sgt. Kurtis Geiger, 6th MXS aircraft structural maintenance craftsman. “Everything revolves in a circle – sheet metals technicians hand over parts to metals technicians who follow their technical order before sending to nondestructive inspection to make sure the piece is good for use on an aircraft.”

To display the teamwork necessary, Geiger and Staff Sgt. Andrew Flanagan, 6th MXS aircraft metals technician, walked through the Fabrication Flight process.

Sheet metals technicians kick off operations by receiving technical orders for KC-135 repairs. Geiger analyzes his technical order and pulls a thin, malleable sheet from their collection. The sheet is then cut to the specific measurements and handed off to a metals technician to be heat treated in a large oven.

"The metal sits in the oven at the maximum temperature for 30 minutes to loosen the grain before being placed in a separate oven for 24 to 72 hours" said Flanagan. "On our side, we handle breaking the metal down and then crafting it to match the technical order for the specific part."

When completed, Flanagan hauls the piece over to nondestructive inspection where Tech. Sgt. Stanley Mays, nondestructive inspection craftsman, conducts tests to ensure the part is compositionally sound and safe for use on a KC-135.

"With the resources we have here, from x-rays to currents tests, we are the final stop on a part's journey to an aircraft," said Mays. "If anything is wrong with the part, it's flagged and sent back to the workshop to either correct the issue, or start the operations all over again."

Accuracy in fabrication is essential in getting aircraft back up flying. When the part has completed all processes and is cleared for use, it is installed onto the aircraft, restoring the jet as a ready and capable refueler.

Fabrication flight Airmen gain a sense of accomplishment by witnessing their work come to fruition each time a KC-135 takes off.

“Having combatant commands and other mission partners on base only adds to the importance of mission success,” said Geiger. “I take pride in the work of the flight, seeing the aircraft out there completing missions thanks to the maintenance here is an amazing feeling.”

MacDill’s KC-135’s are on continuous, rotating deployments to provide mobility around the world and around the clock. With 24 KC-135s assigned to MacDill, maintaining these aircraft is vital to the warfighter.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
#Doyouevenlift? We do! @AirMobilityCmd #C17s recently delivered #hope on its way to the man-made humanitarian crisi… https://t.co/b1GicnXJ3l
.@AFWERX & @Techstars announce the 10 companies participating in #techaccelerator. See how they're working to solve… https://t.co/BCdoR4Cmmt
RT @DeptofDefense: These probably aren’t the FRIES you’re used to. @USArmy Special Forces operators practice their skills with the Fast Ro…
RT @AFEnergy: From installations, to propulsion, to maintenance, to research... engineers are critical to every part of the @usairforce mis…
.@HAFB #Airmen and the F-35 are a lethal combo during exercise Red Flag. For more about the exercise:… https://t.co/nc7F82hPI8
A B-2 Spirit bomber, deployed from @Whiteman_AFB, is staged on the flightline @JointBasePHH, Jan. 30, 2019. (… https://t.co/SVPJe2AfGH
#USAF, @USMC & @USArmy air & ground force elements train together, strengthen skills in the field and sky. #Jointhttps://t.co/Arm1IXIaDy
#DYK: @DMAFB is one of seven #AirForce bases w/forward area refueling point capabilities, and there are only 63 qua… https://t.co/UI2SzoYdjA
RT @AirMobilityCmd: Anyone out there watch Super Bowl LIII? Well, @USNorthernCmd and NORAD fighter aircraft kept the airspace safe during t…
#AirForce formalizes policy on retention of non-deployable Airmen. https://t.co/O8yfj5acRt https://t.co/7t5ynNMgo2
It's a 2-way street! Find out how our #ProfessionalDevelopment Teams are a benefit to both mentor and mentee.… https://t.co/nxmtpZWnis
.@30thSpaceWing civilians use #innovation, reutilization, and team dynamics to save #USAF $1 billion.… https://t.co/TpFKYvaxay
.@374AirliftWing #Airmen are leading the way, learning how the M50 gas mask works w/other #USAF large-frame aircraf… https://t.co/n3cuh1OQnd
“Being self-aware and keeping my mental composure through very intense situations was key.” - Senior #Airman Jeffre… https://t.co/DM22RiBKNN
Citing health, safety concerns, @SecAFOfficial and @GenDaveGoldfein order commanders to conduct ‘100% review’ of al… https://t.co/DzvwOAQDvH
The 6 finalists of @SecAFOfficial’s #SparkTank initiative will showcase their ideas to #USAF senior leaders at… https://t.co/s9PUuNa3BN
The U.S. considers freedom to operate in #space a vital national interest, one that is fundamental to prosperity &… https://t.co/qcgciOUiTe
WARNING: This will leave you wanting more! https://t.co/8oLhRQXyiE
RT @cspan: Today on C-SPAN: 10am – Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew @atlanticcouncil 12:15pm – U.S. Withdrawal from #Afghanistan @cftni