Military News

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hot maintenance

by Airman 1st Class Zachary Cacicia
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/23/2015 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Carrying out maintenance on Team Dover's fleet of C-5M Super Galaxies and C-17A Globemaster IIIs can be challenging at times, but extreme heat and humidity can add additional challenges during the summer months.

Throughout the hottest months of the year, Team Dover Airmen from the 436th and 512th Maintenance Groups regularly spend their work days sweltering through 90-plus degree Fahrenheit temperatures, the scorching sun and extreme humidity.

"It's exhausting at times, you have to stay hydrated," said Airman 1st Class Kyle Ahearn, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief.

Ahearn and his fellow Airmen of the 436th AMXS work maintenance on Team Dover's C-5Ms, spending most of their time out on Dover AFB's flight line where the aircraft are parked. They are responsible for the everyday maintenance and inspections of the airframes and components. This occasionally requires them to crawl into tight confined spaces to perform this maintenance.

"Confined spaces in a C-5 get really hot," Ahearn said. "Heat rises, so anytime you are upstairs or in any enclosed space without a hatch or door open, the heat can really get to you."

But many Airmen actually prefer the hot weather. Originally from a much warmer part of the country, Airman 1st Class Ryan Forslund, 436th AMXS crew chief, feels this way.

"Me personally, I love it," Forslund said. "I'm from Texas, so I love the heat and I dislike the cold. I love coming out here and working in the sun."

Forslund takes satisfaction from working in the extreme heat.

"I know it's gross," he said. "But when I work and get all sweaty, it just makes me feel more accomplished."

For the maintenance Airmen, staying safe in the hot weather means that proper hydration is key.

"It's hot!," said Senior Airman Shaquille Taylor, 436th AMXS crew chief. "It's important to hydrate and get as much shade as possible; otherwise it's like working in a microwave."

But even when the heat index rises well about the 100 degree Fahrenheit mark, most maintainers prefer it to the sub-zero temperatures they experience every winter.

"The cold is the worst," Taylor said. "When it's cold, your fingers get stiff; when it's hot, you can just sweat and get through it."

Staff Sgt. Peter Aguilar, 736th AMXS communications countermeasures navigation technician, agrees that the winter is worse.

"We sometimes have to work with tools without wearing gloves and it really hurts your hands," Aguilar said.

Forslund, who frequently crawls into tight spaces on an aircraft, has issues with the cold as well.

"Having to wear multiple layers in the winter makes it tough to access confined spaces," he said. "During the summer, I just wear what I am required and it's a lot easier."

Master Sgt. William Garcia, 436th AMXS first sergeant, is consistently pleased with the hard work that his Airmen perform, regardless of the working conditions.

"When I see the maintainers out there in environments, whether it be heat, cold, snow, whatever it may be; I'm always amazed by their professionalism and getting the job done," said Garcia. "They don't complain, they don't moan, they do what they got to do, and they do a great job, day-in and day-out."

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