Military News

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Grissom jets headed to Wright-Patterson

by Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner
434th ARW Public Affairs

5/20/2014 - GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Normally birds migrate south for the winter, but Grissom's flock is headed southeast this summer.

Nearly all of Grissom's KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft will begin transitioning to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, during a planned 45-day runway construction project here.

"During that time, our Airmen and aircraft will continue their normal operations at Wright-Patterson," said Col. Bryan Reinhart, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. "Non-flying operations will continue as normal here at Grissom; we're just moving the aviation training and alert mission over to Ohio during the repairs so we don't miss a beat."

The estimated $3.2 million project will temporarily close Grissom's runway June 1 and is critical to the long-term use of the runway by both military and civilian aircraft, said John Robison, 434th Civil Engineer Squadron chief engineer.

"We are doing this to prevent buckling of the runway due to thermal expansion," explained Robison. "The pavement heaves up during the summer time, so we are going to put in expansion joints in the pavement that allow it to move around and prevent an un-level pavement surface."

While the repairs to Grissom's 12,500 foot runway will briefly cease aviation operations at Grissom, Reinhart said everything possible was done to limit the overall impact.

"When we initially looked at these repairs, the projects were spread out over some length of time," he said. "We've worked really hard to consolidate these as much as possible so we limit the time our runway is closed.

"We've been working very closely with Jim Tidd, [Miami County Economic Development Authority director], as well as the local aviation entities on Grissom to be as flexible as we possibly can," the colonel continued. "At the end of the day, these repairs are absolutely necessary and will benefit both military and civilian aviation for years to come."

This is not the first time Grissom's runway has been closed for repair or that the 434th ARW's aviation operations have moved to Wright-Patterson.

"We did this 10 years ago, and it was really successful," said Lt. Col Brian Hollis, 72nd Air Refueling Squadron director of operations and project officer for the move. "A lot of the people that were here in 2004 are still here, and we're benchmarking from that experience to make this as smooth a transition as possible."

During that 2004 excursion, the 445th Airlift Wing and 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson partnered with the 434th ARW to offer a unique opportunity for media outlets to cover all three units. During this year's move, the units are once again partnering to two unique events not normally possible.

The first media event will be on May 27 when media will be able to capture imagery of Grissom KC-135s landing at Wright-Patterson and interview 434th ARW pilots and boom operators.

The second event will be a media flight from Wright-Patterson. Media representatives will have a unique opportunity to see an aerial refueling mission from an aircraft different from what is located in their state as Indiana media will fly on a 445th AW C-17 Globemaster III and Ohio media will fly on a Grissom KC-135.

Media interested in participating in either of these events should contact the 434th ARW Public Affairs office at (765) 688-3348.

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