Maintainers prep record number of Super Hercules

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
More than 88,000 pounds of forged metal over a 112-foot-long by 38-foot-tall frame make up the C-130J. Like the Greek demigod, it goes by the name of Super Hercules, known for his extraordinary strength.

But unlike the fabled son of Zeus, the massive aircraft flies from Ramstein, carrying precious cargo like troops and equipment throughout Europe and Southwest Asia.

Recently, 240 Airmen from the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 37th Aircraft Maintenance Unit put their multiple specialties to work during Bayonet Resolve, a single-day jump exercise consisting of 10 C-130Js.

The 10 different C-130J Air Force special codes worked around the clock, checking the ins and outs of the airframe, from each of the four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines to every tire. They are solely responsible for the inspection, repair, launch and recovery of all 14 military transport aircraft on Ramstein.

"I've done some extensive preflights, but nothing to this magnitude," said Staff Sgt. Brandon Clark, 86th AMXS crew chief.

In six years as a crew chief, Clark said, he'd never seen anything like this done in the short amount of time they had to do it.

The preflight checks and repairs took mere days with the help of maintenance, quality assurance, and fabrication Airmen all working together toward a common goal.

All the prep, the 12-hour shifts, hard work and 24-hour ops paid off, as all 10 C-130Js came back to Ramstein empty and safely.

"Our Airmen understand the preparation was for a mission and part of a combined effort; so they were happy to put in the extra time to get the mission done efficiently," said 2nd Lt. Doug Schulte, 37th AMU officer in charge. "And when that ten-ship went up, it was one hell-of-a sight."

But the 700 Army Soldiers, 12 joint terminal attack controllers and 130 Polish Airmen wouldn't be able to think about stepping on the Super Hercules were it not for the maintenance Airmen checking and repairing more than 400 specific items on the aircraft.

"Our goal is to provide the pilots and cargo with a safe and reliable aircraft," said Clark, a Deerfield, Mich., native. "It's what we do."