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C-130 stands provide safe maintenance

A portion of 12-pieces of C-130 Hercules exterior access maintenance stands provided by Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, are assembled in the 120th Airlift Wing’s main hangar in Great Falls, Mont., on Jan. 30, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)

A portion of 12-pieces of C-130 Hercules exterior access maintenance stands provided by Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, are assembled in the 120th Airlift Wing’s main hangar in Great Falls, Mont., on Jan. 30, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- The 120th Airlift Wing recently added 12-piece steel maintenance stands to the inventory of equipment used to inspect and maintain the unit's C-130 Hercules aircraft.
Using these stands in the regularly scheduled aircraft maintenance process will ultimately increase the safety of the technicians working on the aircraft, said the 120th Maintenance Group isochronal dock supervisor.

Master Sgt. Douglas Buckler said the wing's recent conversion from the smaller F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft to the much larger C-130 transport aircraft presented a series of challenges for his section.

"Among the challenges was the problem of accessibility to areas located above the technician's head while performing maintenance," said Buckler. "Safety considerations are always at the forefront of the technician's mind and performing maintenance in any elevated position compounds these concerns. This steel colossus allows safe and virtually unrestricted access to the upper parts of the aircraft."

The stands were originally discovered by a unit member while he was delivering materials from the wing to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. He has since retired from the Montana Air National Guard.

Retired Senior Master Sgt. Eddie Ingman noticed the stands unused at the Air Force base and asked about the availability of transferring the equipment to the 120th Airlift Wing. Ingman knew that a set of stands were scheduled to be shipped to the unit but would not be delivered for nearly 18 months. This delay could possibly create safety issues for maintenance personnel working on the aircraft.

Ingman's inquiry and legwork pursuing the equipment resulted in the stands being transferred to the wing. This set up a series of events that involved eight unit personnel travelling in four flatbed trucks to Texas to take the stands apart, load and transport the equipment back to Montana.

Buckler said the stands were transported safely home but the reassembly process had to wait until the current phase of the recent hangar remodel was completed.

"Master Sgt. Keith Bennett had to cut some of the larger pieces of the stand in half with a cutting torch so they could fit on the flatbed in Texas," said Buckler. "When they got home he had to re-weld the cut sections and the isochronal shop and the aerial repair shop personnel had to reassemble the piles of metal without the assistance of any kind of directions."

Buckler said 12 separate pieces were assembled, moved to the hangar and placed around the aircraft through the use of up to 15 maintenance personnel. Individual sections were coupled together and adjusted for the correct height and distance from the aircraft in a puzzle-like fashion without the use of schematics.

120th Airlift Wing Ground Safety Manager Senior Master Sgt. Ronny Grina appreciated the ingenuity demonstrated by the Airmen who located, disassembled, transported and reassembled the stands in the hangar.

"I think the individuals involved in procuring the stands demonstrated excellent attitudes toward personal safety, workplace safety, cost-saving and recycling," Grina said. "We have some very dependable and talented Airmen who regularly demonstrate these attitudes."

Maintenance personnel are now enjoying the safety benefits provided by the C-130 exterior access stands that travelled nearly 1500 miles from Texas to their new home in Montana. 

"The ISO and aerial repair shops are ecstatic about their new maintenance stands," said Buckler. "Lots of teamwork and elbow grease has paid off in a big way."
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