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At the Leading Edge of Conversion

New street signs for the Charlotte Air National Guard Base that arrive as the unit transitions to C-17 Globemaster III Aircraft.

New street signs for the Charlotte Air National Guard Base that arrive as the unit transitions to C-17 Globemaster III Aircraft.

01/09/2018 – CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- At the forefront of conversion efforts, Airmen of the 145th Maintenance Group are training to receive the C-17 Globemaster III in April and keep the aircraft in flight. Preparations are not limited to formal schools, and maintenance Airmen are taking the initiative to train others at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base.

“Everyone is really excited about the transition and looking forward to it. This is a big deal because we’re all going back to a basic skill level. No one has worked on this airframe before,” said Capt. Timothy Huneycutt, the 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron operations officer.

Two crew chiefs have attended the 30 day course at the Field Training Detachment 5, 373rd Training Squadron, Joint Base Charleston, S.C., and eight more are currently going through the course which provides knowledge of the aircraft systems and capabilities. Over 30 Airmen will attended the training before the aircraft arrive.

“I gained a lot of information at the training because these instructors have hands on experience and knowledge to pass on of what they’ve seen, and what the aircraft can actually do compared to what the book says,” said Master Sgt. Danny Paytosh, 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

Paytosh is a 23 year seasoned crew chief and said, “I picked up the book knowledge pretty quickly just from reading it, but I needed someone’s experience of how it actually works on the jet.”

Maintenance Airmen are already sharing their knowledge with the crew chiefs who have yet to attend the training.
“During the week we take one to two hours a day just talking C-17 stuff. I’m putting up slides, we’re talking technical data, flight controls, and going over basics of how this aircraft works,” said Paytosh.

The C-17 Globemaster III is the newest and most flexible cargo aircraft and is more technically advanced than the C-130 Hercules aircraft. Previously, crew chiefs would communicate with aircrew members about problems they experienced in flight and then track the issue down.
“The C-17 is going to make our lives here in maintenance, especially as a crew chief, easier. We can get basic information from talking to the aircrew, and then we’re going to sit down and interrogate the mission computer onboard which will tell us everything that happened to the jet in-flight. The computer tells us, ‘the issue is here, go check this.’ We can then track down these problems much quicker instead of spending hours upon hours looking for what caused that noise or that shudder like on the C-130,” said Paytosh.

After attending the academic portion, Airmen will travel to other sister-C-17 Globemaster III units to complete hands-on training or ‘HOTS’ as it’s known in the 145th Maintenance Group. Once the aircraft arrive, Air Force Education and Training instructors will be on-site working in groups called field training teams to further train the maintainers and work through questions or concerns they may encounter.

“The big thing is working on training first, and we have a select core of crew chiefs and other maintainers that will be ready to support and receive the initial few airframes. We’ll also have instructors coming in to help with the overall training program when the airframes get here,” said Huneycutt.

“Their energy and their positive attitudes are incredible, and I’m just so proud of our Airmen. We’re looking forward to April, and it will be a big day for us when our first two airframes arrive,” said Lt. Col. Karen Shook, the 145th Maintenance Squadron commander and maintenance co-chair for the conversion team. “We’re going to be front and center. It’s important to us to make sure our folks are well trained, doing a good job, and kick this off with a successful mindset.”