653rd CLSS, Egyptian Air Force work together to get right fit for four C-130s

  • Published
  • By Holly L. Birchfield
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Members of the 653rd Combat Logistics Support Squadron crossed sea and language barriers to help the Egyptian Air Force's aircraft take to the skies again.

The 12-person team, consisting of various aircraft experts in the unit, spent a little more than six months in Helwan, Egypt, an area 20 miles southeast of Cairo, to assist Egyptian Air Force members in making center wing rainbow and corner fitting repairs to the wings of four C-130 aircraft that were either cracked or corroded.

Master Sgt. Michael Ackerman, a depot structural maintenance craftsman in the 653rd CLSS who served as the team lead on the mission, said the team's enlisted force worked with Egyptian Air Force officers eight hours a day in the fix.

"Initially, (our mission) was to replace two center wing rainbow fittings, one lower right hand side rainbow fitting on the center wing itself and one center wing upper left side," he said.

The fittings are the main connecting components that hold the center and outer wings together and fastens them to the main aircraft. The two outer wing rainbow fittings were the first ever to be done off station, Sergeant Ackerman said. He said the 653rd CLSS team saved the Egyptian Air Force millions of dollars in the project.

The team also worked with Egyptian Air Force members on fixing two corner fittings and an engine truss mount on the aircraft.

653rd CLSS members were on site to teach the service how to make the repairs and to provide tooling the service would need for any such repairs in the future.

Master Sgt. Kenneth Foote, an aircraft structural maintenance craftsman in the 653rd CLSS who served as the team's lead structural technician, said the foreign environment presented a new experience.

From working around the language barriers by using make-shift sign language to adjusting to working with officers instead of enlisted counterparts, the team members learned as much as they taught the foreign service members.

"There were a small percentage of them who spoke very good English," Sergeant Foote said. "Most of them didn't speak English at all. It slowed us down at times. There was a lot of pointing to tools and stuff. There was a little bit of a barrier, but we got through it."

The mission was considered "old hat" for Tech. Sgt. Richard Clearwater, a 653rd CLSS fuel systems craftsman on the mission, but the task helped others like Sergeant Foote learn how to work better with those from foreign services.