WINGING IT: 653rd CLSS helps FTD course gain ability to offer hands-on training Published Dec. 17, 2007 By Amanda Creel 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Robins Air Force Base, Ga. -- Getting your hands dirty is exactly what the Field Training Detachment had in mind for its fuel tank repair course. The FTD program has been working to attain a C-130 wing on which instructors could demonstrate fuel systems repairs and allow the trainees to attempt repair procedures. "We wanted to be able to train them on what they actually work on," said Doug Wall, an FTD instructor. "The training program is going to improve the quality of the maintenance, reduce customer defaults and reduce reworks." Their idea began shaping into a reality after realizing that a condemned wing of a C-130 Hercules could be converted into the perfect training tool. For FTD, the availability of a hands-on-training tool would be just the boost the civilian mechanics at Robins needed to ensure they minimized the amount of field reported defaults and returned the aircraft back to the field as quickly as possible. In the past, the detachment, which is a tenant unit here attached to the 373rd Training Squadron at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, used theory of operation training rather than hands-on training. With the theory of operations training, the civilian maintainers would be guided through how the fuel system works and how to repair or modify it, but would not be given an opportunity to put the theory to the test. Now that the training program has the C-130 wing, they can critique students as they attempt repairs. "With theory of operations training we show them how the system works and here's what you are suppose to do, but we don't have the opportunity to actually demonstrate or let them try to do it," Mr. Wall said. Scott Ary, a C-130 maintainer presently enrolled in the course, said another advantage to the hands-on training is that each maintainer who completes the training will be on the same page using the same techniques for repairs. "Instead of just getting the information, we are going through the step-by-step process," said Michael Gayon, a C-130 maintainer presently taking the course. Mr. Gayon said by having the hands-on training available for maintainers like himself, they will be able to give the warfighter the assets they need to complete their mission. However, without the assistance of the Aging Aircraft Consulting Incorporated and the 653rd Combat Logistics Support Squadron their dream of hands-on instruction might still be in the planning phase. "The cooperation and commitment they had to getting it out quickly was greatly appreciated," Mr. Wall said. The AACI was the program manager for the project, so the team helped locate the condemned wing at Warrior Air Base and brought members of the 653rd CLSS in to help complete the necessary modifications, so that it could be used by the training program. "FTD needed the asset and we secured it for them," said Steve Haynam, engineering specialist with the AACI. "If we hadn't been able to find one here, we would have had to procure one and the cost of that would have been astronomical." It took the group of workers from the 653rd CLSS only five business days to complete the modifications and turn the trainer over to the training program, which allowed the trainer to begin benefiting the depot immediately. Members of the 653rd CLSS team who made the necessary modifications to the C-130 wing said they are just glad to be able to help the C-130 maintainers provide the best possible service to the warfighter. "Here we have taken a condemned asset and turned it into a valuable asset for minimal costs and in record time," Mr. Wall said. The addition of the C-130 wing is a win-win for everyone involved. It allows the C-130 trainers to complete hands-on training in their career field, while allowing members of the 653rd CLSS to brush up on their skills and teach some of the less experienced Airmen some new skills in their own career field. Capt. Chad Gross, acting commander of the 653rd CLSS, said he is just glad his Airmen had the opportunity to help ensure C-130s will be returned to the warfighter ready for the fight because of the enhanced training. "We are glad for our Airmen to be able to help out with this project and other projects around the base," said Chief Master Sgt. Joe Hudson, 653rd CLSS squadron superintendent.