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'Bulldawgs' keep aircraft mission ready

  • Published
  • By Rhonda Griffin
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The recent devastating earthquake in Haiti quickly brought a rush of aircraft to Pope's flightline as Airmen and Soldiers worked together in relief efforts for the ravaged country. With constant air traffic in and out of the base, the "Bulldawgs" of the 43rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron had to stay on their toes. More than just handymen with toolboxes, the squadron knew a time of complete chaos lay ahead.

Working an average total of eight arrivals and departures each day on a normal workday, the maintainers were suddenly slammed with about 40 arrivals and 40 departures each day. With aircraft literally filling the ramp, the 93 maintainers with the 43rd AMXS brought in about 90 others from Dyess, McChord and Travis Air Force bases, but were still faced with 10 times the normal traffic.

"We worked seven days straight in 12-hour shifts," said Capt. Michael Guy, 43rd AMXS Maintenance Operations Officer. "All of the maintainers felt like they were making a difference and wanted to do more because they knew people were depending on them."

"To have the planes lined up and to be working all the way across the ramp was unbelievable," according to Captain Guy, but the maintainers were meticulous in the outcome of their efforts. In only four days, they achieved a 97 percent maintenance departure reliability rate for more than 140 Haiti-related missions, along with 20 other non-related missions with a 100 percent reliability rate, Major Chad Scholes, 43rd AMXS Commander said.

"I have never been associated with such a phenomenal performance in the face of unknown, minute-by-minute changes to a flying schedule," Major Scholes said of his squadron. "In just a couple of days, they recovered and launched the number of aircraft we normally handle in a month."

With the help of the routine Joint Forcible Entry Exercises, the squadron is prepared to handle increased traffic flow, Captain Guy said. "But these guys are like machines. It's great to go out there with that type of attitude."

Maintenance can often be reactive in nature, the captain added, but with the help of training and planning, the Bulldawgs were able to take an active approach to the chaotic situation at hand. "During our training, we had already talked about, 'What are we going to do if this happens?' We had a plan."

All of the action on the flightline never deterred the AMXS. "There were no complaints and no questions other than wanting to know what more they could do," Captain Guy added. "During shift changes, supervision explained the big picture to keep morale high. We had many exceptional performers."

"From the maintainers on the line to the section chiefs to production to support, there was not one weak link," Major Scholes said of the Bulldawgs' performance. "I'm still in awe of what was accomplished."