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Equipment specialist saves AF money by building simulator

Jolly Tangog, an equipment specialist with Air Force engineering and technical services for the 732nd Air Mobility Squadron, supervises Senior Airman Adam Orton, a jets lead technician, as he uses a C-5M Super Galaxy maintenance trainer on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 7, 2015. Tangog came up with the cost-saving idea to build a trainer at Elmendorf rather than sending Airmen away on a temporary duty for expensive refresher training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Alejandro Pena)

Jolly Tangog, an equipment specialist with Air Force engineering and technical services for the 732nd Air Mobility Squadron, supervises Senior Airman Adam Orton, a jets lead technician, as he uses a C-5M Super Galaxy maintenance trainer on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 7, 2015. Tangog came up with the cost-saving idea to build a trainer at Elmendorf rather than sending Airmen away on a temporary duty for expensive refresher training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Alejandro Pena)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (AFNS) -- Jolly Tangog found his niche in a job he wasn’t familiar with when he applied, but that fit his skill set perfectly and allowed him to build something new.

Just a few months into his work as equipment specialist with Air Force engineering and technical services for the 732nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Tangog, a retired master sergeant noticed his leadership was looking for ways to save money on training. He had an idea. He wanted to build a C-5M Super Galaxy maintenance trainer to train Airmen at Elmendorf instead of sending them to the continental U.S.

The aircraft doesn't stop by Elmendorf often, but per Air Force Instruction, 21-101 "Aircraft and Equipment Maintenance Management" the Airmen still need to be proficient at it when they do.

"We needed something to train our folks, but at the same time, we couldn't break the bank," he said. "We were just talking one day and I brought this idea up. We normally sent people (to the lower 48) to train in a simulator where the flight instruments are panels hanging on walls. That's it; they teach that way."

Tangog noted that they couldn't bring the maintenance up to Alaska, and it was costing too much to send people to it. So he decided to build a simulator.

The stars appeared to line up again, the equipment specialist said, and his leadership saw his idea as exactly the type they had been looking for.

"This trainer allows us to keep our competencies up without sending people to training so they can better serve the mission," Atkinson said. "It's a home run all the way for a $600 investment. A trip for the training costs about $1,500 a person (per) class. Take that times however many people and you're saving thousands of dollars, and keeping the Airmen home with their families and working on the line instead of being away.

"I went one step further than the normal training does -- I put it in the correct position by building the maintenance trainer," Tangog said, describing the desk-sized wooden cockpit with printed panels and instruments. "Jason Bradford, a 732nd AMS conveyor maintainer who welds and does woodwork, helped me out a lot; he runs a wood shop. I drew out the diagrams and measurements. He had all the tools and we bought the materials through the proper channels. It took us about a month from the conception to building it. It was a team effort."

"I love it," said Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew Atkinson, the 732nd AMS commander. "I thought Mr. Tangog had great initiative; the fact that he could start it by himself was awesome -- and saved us a lot of money, and more importantly, Airmen's time."

Because it's in its infancy, the simulator isn't intended to replace real training yet.

"It's not enough to become proficient," he explained. "But it will get Airmen in the ballpark; they'll be able to identify switches on panels and where they are located. They'll be able to follow a checklist, every graphic simulating a switch or dial is located exactly where it would be on the aircraft. I tried to make it as accurate as possible by using technical manuals and information from other sources."

Use of the trainer will be available by the end of the the year, Tangog said.

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