MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga., Jan. 9, 2018 — After a snowstorm halted all flying and maintenance operations, the 75th Aircraft Maintenance Unit here took extra measures to ensure their A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft could operate in frigid temperatures.
The maintainers were able to get the A-10s flying and mission-ready within 24 hours by performing extra inspections and increasing their workload to get back on schedule.
“Ice can significantly reduce lift, increase drag and add significant weight to the aircraft, which can be dangerous.” said Air Force Senior Airman Carlos Ramon-Cruz, 75th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief. “We perform extra inspections and allow the aircraft to warm up longer to ensure everything goes smoothly.
“We keep an extra eye out for any ice or snow on the aircraft during conditions like this,” Ramon-Cruz added.
While aircraft are affected by the cold weather, the airmen working on them are also vulnerable to the frigid temperatures.
“The cold more affects the maintainers then it does the aircraft,” said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Zimmerman, 75th AMU superintendent. “The maintainers have to wear more clothes and they mainly work with their hands, so when they get cold and frigid it slows down the entire maintenance process.”
While the maintainers have to adapt to the cold, the 75th AMU will have to work extra to make up for lost production due to the snowstorm.
“Jan. 4 was supposed to be our first flying day of the year,” Zimmerman said. “Consequently, we got behind, and all together we lost 18 sorties from the snow day that we will have to make up.”
To make up for the flying hours that were lost, the 75th AMU will increase its production over the next few weeks to get back on its normal flying schedule.
“We already perform 24-hour operations on the flight line, so we’re increasing our sorties at the end of each week to help us regain the time that was lost,” Ramon-Cruz said. “We’re going to be ramping up the workload to get back on the track that we were on before the snowstorm.”
Because Moody doesn’t experience below-freezing temperatures on a frequent basis, the maintainers are not fully equipped to handle the frigid conditions.
“We keep our aircraft covered to help keep the snow off, but we don’t have any de-icing machines to heat up the planes,” Zimmerman said. “If we have ice on the planes, we have to just wait it out until we can get them flyable.”
While continuing to adapt to the cold weather and staying on schedule, the 75th AMU emphasized how nothing, including the weather, will stop them from completing their mission.
“There’s no heat, or air conditioning out there on the flight line,” said Zimmerman. “If the base is open, we’re going to be working around the clock to keep our aircraft flying.”