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15. Recover, service, launch: TA does it all

2nd Lt. Brian Maguire, AMCNS09 15/05/ 2009


DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. Two different squadrons are responsible for the 18 C-5 Galaxy and 13 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft assigned here, but only one flight has responsibility for the nearly 3,000 transient aircraft that have transited Dover AFB since May 2008.

     The Transient Maintenance Flight, part of the 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, is responsible for recovering, servicing and launching non-Dover aircraft that arrive at Dover AFB.
     "We recover, service and launch every aircraft that comes into, but is not assigned to, Dover Air Force Base," said Master Sgt. Jimmy Garlington, 436th AMXS Transient Maintenance Flight chief.
     Transient aircraft will include the performers and static displays for the Dover AFB Open House, scheduled for June 20-21. The Transient Maintenance Flight has been heavily involved in the planning for the Open House, said Sergeant Garlington.
     "We'll be coordinating all the recovery, fueling and servicing of all the air show aircraft, including launching the aerial demonstrations," the sergeant said.
     Transient alert, or TA as the Transient Maintenance Flight is known, is highly noticeable because of the "follow-me truck" they drive to guide aircraft on the flight line.
     "The symbol of the unit is the follow-me truck," said Charles Squash, 436th AMX Transient Maintenance Flight superintendent. "That is the main tool, and that is how we lead non Dover-assigned aircraft to the parking spots."
     TA generally does not use the follow-me truck to guide aircraft assigned to Dover AFB, because the crews are familiar with the flight line, said Mr. Squash. Dover crews will request assistance from TA if the situation requires it.
     "We also escort the aircraft in and out based on weather," said Mr. Squash. "If it is low visibility or snow, the crews will ask us to take them out to the runway and back in, even base crews."
     The follow-me truck has better visibility because they are closer to the ground than the aircrew who are taxiing the aircraft, said Mr. Squash.
     Guiding aircraft isn't all that TA does, as they also perform maintenance on transient aircraft, and provide parking spots for all aircraft coming to Dover AFB, including the jets that perform the flyover of the Sunday NASCAR race at Dover Downs.
     "Our main NASCAR impact is the aircraft for the flyover, and we do that for the spring and the fall race every year," said Sergeant Garlington.
     "We also do aircraft maintenance, such as engine runs, inspections, component replacement and other required maintenance," said Mr. Squash.
     There is never a dull moment for the almost 50 people who work in the Transient Maintenance Flight, who pull three shifts a day, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. In order to complete their mission, TA relies on assistance from the rest of the maintenance group, as well as other elements from the 436th Airlift Wing, to launch the transient aircraft out in a safe and timely manner.
     "It is absolutely a total team effort," said Sergeant Garlington.
     "We each have our own specific mission, but the lines are blurry," said 1st Lt. Justin Garey, 436th AMXS Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. "When someone needs help, we help."