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Alamo Wing honorary commanders receive lesson on C-5 maintenance

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by Elsa Martinez
433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

1/30/2013 - Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland – Fifteen 433rd Airlift Wing’s honorary commanders received a tour of the C-5A Galaxy aircraft and saw the wing’s maintenance mission first hand Jan. 18.

The honorary Commanders began their tour at the 433rd Maintenance Squadron’s Propulsion Branch surrounded by mammoth C-5A engines.

Col. Charles Combs, 433rd Maintenance Group commander stressed to guests that the Alamo Wing’s maintenance Airmen not only maintained the jet, but they are also innovators in C-5A maintenance methods and procedures.

“What you’re going to see today are things that are specific not just to the wing or even to the plane, but to C-5A maintenance overall,” he said. “For example, we manufacture many of the molded interior trim panels used for the C-5M refurbishment. That’s something the 433rd developed that has been reproduced elsewhere at other C-5 units.”

Following an intensive question-and-answer session, guests learned about the maintenance of the C-5 turbofan engines that surrounded them. They next traveled to the 433rd MXS’s Corrosion Shop to learn about the manufacture of interior trim panels that Combs had mentioned.

Guests then toured the maintenance complex shops.  Lacy Hampton, vice president for college services at St. Philips College and 433rd MXS honorary commander, marveled at the different aspects of the wing’s aircraft maintenance that he had been unaware of previously.

“Visiting these shops has taught me so much about what a diverse maintenance mission the 433rd has and their impact on their flying mission,” he said. “I’m anxious to share what I’ve learned today with our aviation technology students.”

The highlight of the day’s events was a walk-through tour of the C-5A Galaxy. Honorary commanders were wowed when the giant airlifter’s visor-type, hinged nose was opened and then lowered flush on the tarmac for entry.

Master Sgt. Tony Wilks, 733rd Training Squadron deputy superintendent, noted for visitors the unique design of the C-5A’s landing gear.

“Ours is the only landing gear of its kind, where the wheels rotate inward, retract upward and then level out to finish the retraction process as the main gear doors are closed and locked. No other aircraft, military or commercial, has such a design that’s so efficient,” he said.

While walking around the cargo compartment, Sergio Gonzalez, an employee relations administrator for VIA Metropolitan Transit and 26th Aerial Port Squadron honorary commander, was awestruck by the C-5A’s sheer size. A former Army National Guardsman, remarked, “I never knew what was going on here at the 433rd. It makes me want to put on a uniform again!”

The tour concluded with honorary commanders and 433rd leadership sharing a Texas barbecue cooked and served by members of the 433rd MXG. Honorary commanders shared their perspectives about the various and diverse maintenance functions.

Gary Cram, president and CEO of Cram Roofing and 433rd Maintenance Group honorary commander, summed up the day’s experience.

“People would be amazed if they knew what was going on here,” he declared. “They just don’t know what’s going on right here in their own backyard.”


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