by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
1/15/2016 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- "Clean
before applying paint" is a direction many people have disregarded
during a home improvement project, but they are words that are
well-heeded by the members of the 86th Maintenance Squadron isochronal
(ISO) inspection section.
Proper washing and painting can be crucial in maintaining the aircraft assigned to Ramstein Air Base.
"[It] is for corrosion prevention," said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Kohn, 86th
MXS ISO dock coordinator. "You want to get all the grime and grit that
gathered while it's out.
"We don't always land on international runways," Kohn added. "We land on
dirt runways with rocks, so you're going to get nicks and things wrong
with your plane."
For this reason, Kohn said they wash and paint the aircrafts in conjunction with the regularly scheduled ISO inspections.
An ISO inspection is a scheduled, extensive examination of an aircraft
to maintain its functionality and perform preventive maintenance. The
inspections can vary in time and complexity, with inspections
categorized as either A, B, C-1 or C-2 checks.
"The C-2 check, which is the most in-depth, is what we're coming up on
right now," Kohn said. "Anything and everything that you have on this
aircraft is going to be touched by us."
This C-2 check marks the end of a 14-aircraft ISO inspection period for
Ramstein. After this C-2 inspection, Ramstein will not be due for
another one until 2020.
"For the 86th Airlift Wing, that means more reliability on the aircraft side," Kohn said.
The inspections involve Airmen from multiple shops in the 86th MXS, but
each aspect of the process holds value to the getting the aircraft back
"I had never heard about having to wash an aircraft, and then I got
here, in my second or third week I was told I was going to wash," said
Airman 1st Class Ryan Kuiper, 86th MXS aerospace maintenance apprentice.
"It's an experience I'll never forget, that's for sure."
The Airmen have one day to get the entire aircraft washed. As such, Kuiper said the wash day can be long and physically taxing.
"It's cool to see the plane go from dirty to clean," he said.
Though the painting is mostly just touch-up spot painting, it is still
an important method to prevent corrosion and extend the life of the
Once the aircraft is washed and painted, it then officially goes into
inspection, which is broken up into a "look" and a "fix" phase.
"They are very in-depth inspections," Kuiper said. "The planes get taken apart and put back together."
The ISO section typically looks for the items that would cause mission
stoppage first, but they check everything from burned-out light bulbs to
"You learn how things operate, what goes wrong more than others" Kuiper
said. "During the inspection, you learn why things are more important
than other things."
Kuiper said the inspection is better than the wash because though they
are still on a time crunch, they are allowed more than the one day that
completing the wash requires.
Each C-2 inspection takes approximately two weeks to return the aircraft
to operational status, but it all begins with a wash and paint job.