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145th MXS CDDAR Team, hand selected Airmen for a special mission

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran
  • 145th Public Affairs
Aircraft accidents can happen without warning and being ready to respond effectively is vital. Airmen who respond after an accident are called the Crashed, Damaged, Disabled Aircraft Recovery (CDDAR) Team. These selected few must work and train together in order to be prepared to respond at a moment's notice.

The CDDAR Team is structured using the skills from a full spectrum of aircraft maintenance. The team consists of 25 mechanics with expertise in repair and reclamation, fuels, hydraulics and avionics.

"Each Airman is from a different skillset within the unit and was hand selected to receive training for this special mission. It takes highly skilled mechanics to employ damage recovery techniques; if not, a completely repairable aircraft can turn into a non-repairable resource," said Chief Master Sgt. Douglas Rook, 145th Maintenance Squadron. 

As part of a training requirement, the CDDAR Team must be re-certified every three years. The goal of the CDDAR training program is to show aircraft mechanics how to recover an aircraft and clear a runway in real world situations in the most efficient and safest way.

Each Airman's safety is essential for the success of the mission. Using a crash site is not the place for training, so with the cooperation of the Carolina's Aviation Museum, the team was allowed to use a Convair F-102 Delta Dagger for the lift training. 

Master Sgt. Robert Holder, 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, team chief, worked closely with the Carolina Aviation Museum to utilize this retired aircraft.

"Using a decommissioned aircraft minimizes the effect on the Wing's current operations and makes the training as realistic as possible," said Holder.

CDDAR capability depends largely on the equipment it is assigned based on the airframe its serves. The Cold War era, F-102 aircraft, weighs 19,000 pounds, has a wing span of 38 feet, and is 68 feet long. Typically an aircraft is fully defueled and cargo unloaded to the fullest extent possible before lifting. The 145th MXS CDDAR team is capable of lifting an empty C-130 which weighs 85,000 pounds.  

Actual aircraft recoveries and training is conducted by using special cribbing, air bags, sleds and advanced heavy duty slings and cranes. Using this specialized equipment Airmen can physically lift the aircraft out of the crash site to reclaim as many assets as possible.

With countless pieces of equipment, safety risks, and detailed steps, it was the show of a team effort that the task of lifting the aircraft was accomplished. Fully engaged, questions answered and equipment operations completed, the desired milestone of re-certification was fulfilled. 

"Although the weather plagued us resulting in two cancellations, we were able to successfully complete the training in a short window of time, certifying our team chiefs once again for three years," said Rook.