by Jet Fabara
412th Test Wing Public Affairs
6/11/2015 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- How
do you dispose of more than 30 years of expired explosive aircraft
equipment in less than one minute? While some may say "very carefully,"
the real answer at Edwards is with the help of the Explosive Ordnance
Since a growing number of explosive ejection seat items had been in
storage at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center Life Support shop
over the years and needed to be disposed of, the NASA shop sought out
the assistance of the 412th Civil Engineer Group EOD team to dispose of
these items June 8 at the Open Burn/Open Detonation range.
"Today we disposed of approximately 500 pounds of NASA ordnance that
they've been stockpiling for 30 to 50 years belonging to aircraft like
the SR-71, to include some experimental planes," said Staff Sgt.
Christopher Severe, 412th CE EOD Quality Assurance Section. "They
weren't able to ship a lot of the equipment since it would cost their
team about half a million dollars in transportation. So it was far
cheaper to involve us, and a lot more convenient."
"We had a lot of old ejection seat pyrocatridges and rocket engines from
our aircraft programs. The need to dispose of these items started
because we had some old Stanley YANKEE Extraction System rockets that
were too old to ship back to depot so we had to look for local disposal
methods and that's where EOD said they could help," added Travis Gidner,
NASA AFRC Operations Life Support.
While Gidner noted that a lot of people usually wonder about the
historic value of the items, he said that due to its volatile nature, it
wasn't safe and feasible to keep the items.
"The reason we had to dispose of it is because of the explosive content
that's contained within each item. We have stuff dating back to A-1 Sky
Raider seats all the way up to our F-16, F-18, B-52 and T-38," Gidner
said. "Even though there is a value, historically, to these items,
pyrocatridges usually don't last and will usually degrade over time.
There's also the possibility that it may become unstable over time and
that's what happened to the YANKEE rockets. They weren't safe to
transport anymore, so we had to get rid of them here."
Although Gidner said they brought out a good portion of items that NASA
had stockpiled, this was just the first of two detonation and disposal
events due to limited range time.
"When we contacted EOD, they came out, inventoried and photographed
everything. The process took approximately six months, but they gathered
the size and weight of everything; this way they could plan how much
C-4 they should use," said Gidner. "Due to our range time, we had to
sort out the biggest items we needed disposed of and planned for a
future disposal event."
According to Severe, the EOD team used approximately 412 pounds of C-4 explosive.
"This was definitely a first with NASA. Although we had to go through an
extensive process, which involved writing up memorandums, between NASA,
EOD and the base, it was a valuable experience for our young EOD
technicians as well," said Severe.