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Turning C-130s during Allied Forge

Nevada Air National Guard Senior Airman James Hieatt, C-130 Hercules crew chief, 152nd Airwing, assists with offloading parachute equipment containers at Calvi Airport, France on May 25, 2014, in support of Allied Forge 2014. This exercise, led by the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division in conjunction with the 152nd and 165th Air National Guard Airlift Wings, is the first-ever interoperability exercise designed to enhance bilateral capabilities between the United States and the French 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erica J. Knight/Released) 4th Combat Camera Squadron, March ARB, CA

Nevada Air National Guard Senior Airman James Hieatt, C-130 Hercules crew chief, 152nd Airwing, assists with offloading parachute equipment containers at Calvi Airport, France on May 25, 2014, in support of Allied Forge 2014. This exercise, led by the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division in conjunction with the 152nd and 165th Air National Guard Airlift Wings, is the first-ever interoperability exercise designed to enhance bilateral capabilities between the United States and the French 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erica J. Knight/Released) 4th Combat Camera Squadron, March ARB, CA

RAF MILDENHALL, UK -- In-between the various missions the 192nd Airlift Squadron is flying as part of Allied Forge, an entirely different mission, aircraft maintenance, is occurring.

When an airplane arrives on the ground, or is preparing to depart, numerous maintenance functions have to take place to ensure its safety and operability. When the 152nd Airlift Wing team departed for Allied Forge, about one third of those traveling were maintenance personnel.

According to crew chief Senior Airman James Hieatt, numerous checks have to take place when an aircraft returns from a flight, and then again before it departs.

Before a flight, maintenance personnel, among other things, must conduct visual inspections of the aircraft's cargo area, ensure that all the aircraft's fire extinguisher bottles are filled correctly, check for fluid leaks, inspect hydraulic lines and systems and perform other checks.

Once an aircraft lands, maintenance personnel must "turn" it. Basically, "turning" an aircraft is: performing safety and maintenance checks, and making necessary repairs or adjustments to ensure that the aircraft is ready to fly again. This includes, but is not limited to: performing engine checks, inspecting the landing gear and a visual inspection of the cargo area.

Before the aircraft departs, maintainers will check its liquid oxygen supply (LOX), in case the crew members require the use of respirators during the flight, inspect the plane's hydraulic system, check the aircraft's fuel level, and will add fuel in the appropriate tanks as directed by the aircrew.

"I enjoy having more time to do my job without having to do online training, and other stuff that happens during drill weekend," said Hieatt. "The people at RAF Mildenhall are very accommodating to us. They have plenty of equipment which was made for our airplanes-it makes our job a lot easier."

Throughout Allied Forge, 152nd Maintenance personnel have "turned" the two Reno C-130 aircraft numerous times. Sometimes the "turns" involve basic inspections and checks, other times there are repairs and replacements which must be done. These can be anything from simple minutes-long fixes, to hours-long major repairs. Fortunately for those on this assignment, there haven't been many "major" issues with the airplanes.

Along with the other 152nd Airlift Wing's participants in Allied Forge, Hieatt will continue to execute his job until the group returns to Reno later in June.

Hieatt is a crew chief with the 152nd Maintenance Squadron, and has been with the 152nd Maintenance Squadron for approximately four years.