71st RGS launches prized Black Letter Flight

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. John Crampton
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

The 71st Rescue Generation Squadron launched a rare ‘Black Letter’ flight July 12, 2022, on Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.

A flight is considered Black Letter when an aircraft has no discrepancies, defects, or write-ups and could be something the average maintainer only sees once or twice in their career.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Spangler, 71st RGS dedicated crew chief (DCC), and Senior Airman Clark Ivey, 71st assistant dedicated crew chief (ADCC), are the Airmen responsible for this achievement. 

“Staff Sgt. Spangler and Senior Airman Ivey have diligently worked their aircraft over the last 2 years,” said Master Sgt. Jonathan Weber, 71st RGS lead production superintendent. “During this time they have corrected too many discrepancies to count. They deserve all the accolades they will get from this.”

All aircraft experience regular wear and tear, so discrepancies are common and it takes exceptional dedication to fix them all.

“We’ve stayed after work and come in on days off to work on our aircraft,” Spangler said. “[Black Letter] has been our goal from the beginning, and it has been a non-stop effort.”

71st RGS leadership acknowledged the historical achievement and the Airmen responsible for it.

“This is incredibly rare, in fact the only one I’ve seen in my 10 years in maintenance,” said Maj. Patrick Britton, 71st RGS commander. “It highlights the outstanding maintenance performed here at the 71st RGS, and at Moody Air Force Base.”

In honor of their accomplishment, Ivey marshalled the aircraft out for its defect-free flight and rendered the customary salute.

“This will light a fire under other DCCs, because we’ve shown it's possible,” said Ivey. “We’ll see how many more people want to prove that they can reach this goal too.”

71st Rescue Squadron aircrew members fly these aircraft and depend on 71 RGS maintainers to make sure aircraft are safe to fly.

“It’s definitely good to have the maintainers here and know that they’re putting in all the hard work to keep us safe and keep the mission going,” said 1st Lt. Jonathan Romanko, 71st RQS HC-130J Combat King II co-pilot, “having a completely clean form is an achievement, it’s nice to know the aircraft is running like new.”