07/24/2018 – CHARLOTTE, N.C. – --
A few months have passed since the April conversion from the C-130 Hercules aircraft to the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, and members of the 145th Maintenance Group have wasted no time training as many of their Airmen as possible. The Monday following the official conversion they initiated a 90 day course with a Field Training Team to facilitated the training of 88 Airmen.
“We held as many classes as we could while we had those instructor here from Charleston in that 90 day window. The feedback from all the students was extremely positive. The instructors had an average of ten plus years of experience and they were extremely professional and knowledgeable,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Poarch, the training manager for the 145th Maintenance Group.
A total of 14 Air Force Education and Training instructors from the Field Training Detachment 5, 373rd Training Squadron, Joint Base Charleston, S.C., lead the course. The instructors are now integrated within the various elements of the unit to answer questions and further assist in the qualification of as many maintenance personnel as possible.
In addition to the training held at the Charlotte Air National Guard Base, members have also traveled to other sister-C-17 Globemaster III units to complete hands-on training and bring that experience back to train others.
Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Freeman, 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and production superintendent for the crew chiefs said, “We are on track and ahead of schedule from my perspective. We’re sending people off station to other units to learn and where ever we see opportunities to train we’re doing it. Our Airmen are very job and goal oriented. They’ll go out and seek any opportunity they can to train.”
Within three months, the unit has trained 40 percent of its Airmen on the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and is working towards 100 percent of maintenance personnel fully trained.
“We have to make sure that each person is qualified. So if we have extra bodies and all the positions are filled, we can put someone there that needs training so they can shadow. We do that for pretty much every task, and with redundancy of the tasks eventually we’ll all be qualified and knowledgeable,” said Smigelski.
“We’re all putting in a great deal of effort. It’s a big learning curve, and within maintenance it takes a lot of dedication. Every opportunity we get to train we do it, whether that’s towing, refueling, or defueling. I feel like we’re making really great progress,” said Tech. Sgt. Jason Smigelski, 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
The conversion was an equalizer for each crew chief. Some came into the transition with 20 plus years of experience working on the C-130 Hercules aircraft and others with very little experience.
“I feel like my skills have grown quite a bit. I look at myself six months ago when we didn’t even have planes. I remember when the C-17s landed on the ramp and thinking, ‘wow’. Now I actually know what I’m looking at, how things work and how to diagnose it,” said Smigelski.