Maintainers continue operations despite COVID-19 challenges

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Justin Norton
  • 302nd Airlift Wing

Technicians with the 302nd Maintenance Squadron here pressed on with close-to-normal operations during the June Unit Training Assembly, staying on task despite guidelines put in place to mitigate the threat of COVID-19.

“The 302 MXS has been tasked with operating at reduced manning each week in response to the pandemic while maintaining a 100% aircraft availability mentality,” said Chief Master Sgt. Freddie Sanchez, 302 MXS superintendent. “We’ve been using virtual tools and teleworking solutions to maintain continuity with our members through these challenging times.”

 Airmen with the 302 MXS inspect, repair, overhaul and modify parts and equipment on the wing’s C-130 aircraft, commonly removed from the airframe to be worked on in the backshop. Their responsibilities sometimes take them out to the flight line as well.

“Our 302 MXS members are, by far, the best the Air Force has to showcase,” said Sanchez. “These Airmen are the most outstanding maintainers and I would follow them into any operation our wing is tasked to support.”

The squadron’s electrical and environmental technicians worked alongside crew chiefs to perform an aircraft cabin pressure test on one aircraft during a routine inspection. The test requires maintainers to fire up the aircraft auxiliary power unit, a task requiring hands-on certification. Multiple maintainers took the opportunity to recertify themselves on the task before performing the pressure test.

Technicians from the 302 MXS metals technology shop used cutting and welding skills to correct discrepancies on an aircraft wash rack, enabling the wash crew to store equipment more efficiently. They also performed work on a deficiency identified with an aircraft wheel.

Propulsion technicians cleaned aircraft engine compressors using specialized machinery to send bursts of air and a mixture of water and soap through the component. The task is performed on C-130 aircraft on a scheduled basis throughout the Air Force, but 302 MXS Reserve Citizen Airmen perform the task more frequently due to local climate conditions.

“Without the 302 MXS, aircraft would stop flying,” said Capt. James Gerdis, 302 MXS operations officer. “The overall mission of the wing, to provide combat service support, cannot happen without us. We make the mission.”

Technicians accomplished these tasks while following COVID-19 guidelines, staying six feet apart whenever possible and donning their masks when social distancing was not possible. They only removed their masks when the fabric impeded necessary intercom communications throughout the aircraft.

Gerdis said the primary function of 302nd MXS is to provide a major overhaul on each aircraft with an in-depth inspection at predetermined intervals. The overhauls involve more than 1,000 separate jobs performed by Airmen from many different Air Force specialties.

To apply for one of these specialties and take on responsibilities like this with the 302 MXS, visit to talk to a recruiter.