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Sheltering in place? Pope Airman has you “covered”

  • Published
  • By Jim Bove

Team Pope’s Master Sgt. Andrew Spaulding has an innovative idea that may soon save your life while sheltering in place during a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident.

Spaulding, section chief of the 43d Air Mobility Squadron, is a semifinalist in the Air Mobility Command Spark Tank innovation idea competition. His shelter-in-place vent covering can be installed in approximately 10 seconds, blocking potentially harmful air from entering the room in order to preserve time and lives.

“I noticed one of our Airmen gathering equipment for our shelter-in-place kits,” Spaulding recalls. “We were using large garbage bags that had to be fitted and cut for each opening. It looked disastrous, especially considering we would need it for high ceilings.”

The Portland native’s current prototype is made up of three materials: plastic film, cardboard and double-sided tape. After peeling the tape, the covering is stuck to a vent cover to block potentially harmful air. It includes a knob to attach an extension pole for use on higher ceilings. When mass produced, the coverings can be made to fit vents, doors and windows.

The idea is part of Pope’s Gryphon Spark program, which creates transformative opportunities and fosters a culture of innovation to solve problems and enhance effectiveness. The most innovative ideas add high value to the Air Force by increasing integration and joint capabilities, saving money and providing greater benefit to Airmen.

Spaulding’s idea was submitted to the Air Mobility Command’s semifinalist round. Finalists will be notified in September and advance to the 2020 AMC PHOENIX Spark Competition scheduled for October 31, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Similar to the TV show “Shark Tank,” the winning idea is funded for production.

For more information on AMC’s PHOENIX Spark campaign, visit here.  

For more information on Team Pope’s Gryphon Spark process, contact Mr. Michael Sydnor (; 910-394-8785).