23d CMS fuels shop keeps mission flying

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Olivia Bumpers
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
Long hours, the smell of jet fuel and constant fuel tank repairs make up a typical day for the maintainers of the 23d Component Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuel systems repair section.

Their job is to carry on Moody's mission by providing 24/7 coverage, making sure the fuel tanks on each aircraft are set and ready to go.

"We keep them in the air," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Teague, 23d CMS aircraft fuel systems repair craftsman. "You can't fly without gas."

Not to confuse them with the 23d Logistics Readiness Squadron Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants (POL) flight, Airmen of the fuel systems repair section maintain the fuel tanks of the A-10C Thunderbolt II, HH-60G Pave Hawk, and the HC-130P Combat King.

"We provide the wing with fully-mission-capable aircraft," said Tech. Sgt. Brian Thompson, 23d CMS aircraft fuel systems section chief. "It's not a glamorous job, but we do what we have to do in order to keep the planes in the sky."

In order to keep these aircraft flying, the fuel system repair section conducts routine maintenance and every now and then, perform major repairs on fuel tanks that can take up anywhere from two to 170 hours to finish.

"We work on anything that flies," said Teague. "During our technical training we are hands-on with the aircraft. We learn about varieties of aircraft because we have to be prepared for any repair.

"It also saves the Air Force money by training us to that extent so they do not have to put together a maintenance recovery team."

With this in mind, the fuel systems repair section saved the Air Force approximately $360,000 by repairing 29 condemned external fuel tanks to make them serviceable.

"One bad move can cost the Air Force a lot of money," said Thompson. "We have to be safety conscious when we are repairing our tanks."

Not only do they have to be safety conscious, but following the proper technical orders also plays a big role what in repairs Airmen make.

"We abide by certain procedures to make sure our repairs are done properly," said Thompson. "A wrong move on our part can potentially injure or kill someone."

The section also works with other flights in CMS and various units on base like the 23d Medical Group bioenvironmental engineering flight and the 23d LRS POL flight, who burn the samples they obtain from purged fuel tanks.

"When it comes down to it, we work as a team," said Thompson. "We're just a small cog in a big wheel."

Both Thompson and Teague mentioned the job satisfaction they get when watching a plane take off.

"Knowing you played a part in the planes flying gives you a sense of accomplishment," said Teague. "I feel like we make magic happen with old planes and refurbished parts."

Although it's a potentially dangerous job, the Airmen of the aircraft fuel systems repair section are needed to keep Moody's aircraft in flying condition.