8th AMU new kid on the tarmac

  • Published
  • By Jamie Haig
  • 1st SOW Public Affairs
The 8th Aircraft Maintenance Unit may be the smallest and newest maintenance squadron at Hurlburt Field, but they are fired up about their mission and the aircraft they're responsible for safekeeping.

Sharing space with the MH-53 PAVE LOWs in Independence Hangar, they're responsible for the modifications and maintenance of the 8th Special Operations Squadron's first CV-22 Osprey.
But in order to do their job, they had to have the work area to perform these duties.

"The Airmen did almost everything in the squadron from painting to laying tiles," said Senior Master Sgt.. Jorge Morales, 8th AMU. "There was nothing here. We had to go to the self-help store, get the materials and get to work."

Although it's not completed, the squadron had time to set up the workspace while awaiting the arrival of the tilt-rotor aircraft.

After arriving on base Jan.. 5, the aircraft needed specific modifications and inspections completed before it ever left the tarmac on its first flight this week.

The crews started with an acceptance inspection of the first Air Force Special Operations Command Osprey and then proceeded to the anti-ice modifications of various parts of the plane.

"During developmental testing of the CV-22, it was discovered that the blunt objects on the plane collected ice," Sergeant Morales said.

"We've been adding farings that will cover these parts, protect them and make the aircraft more aerodynamic."

Since the arrival of the 8th SOS's aircraft, the maintainers have worked seven days a week making modifications to the aircraft in preparation for its upcoming cold weather testing in Alaska.

"We're trying to set a standard for this aircraft," said Capt.. Aaron Hagar, 8th AMU. "We're stricter than ever before because it's a new aircraft for this base. But safety is first and our crews work accordingly."

After every 35 hours of flight, the aircraft will be put down for an inspection.

After all the parts are inspected and modified, the next part of the inspection is that the aircraft goes through a blade fold wing stow, where the three blades on each propeller are folded inward.

The engine then comes forward, and the arms of the prop are turned parallel to the aircraft body. This enables the CV-22 to be stowed on an aircraft carrier or a C-5 Galaxy.

With each new aircraft, there are always new procedures that don't fall into place. The Airmen and contractors of this new squadron have been taking them in stride.

"We have permanent contractors that have worked on this aircraft since the beginning," Captain Hagar said. "They're just as dedicated as the Airmen, and we consider them one of our own."
Despite the difficulties, the maintainers are excited to be a part of Air Force history.

"I've worked on fighter jets before, but this is great," said Staff Sgt.. David Gilbert, 8th AMU. "Avionics are the same aircraft to aircraft, but we're the first to work on the first AFSOC tilt-rotor."

The 8th SOS is grateful to the maintainers for their diligence and perseverance in performing the acceptance and modifications of the aircraft in such a short time span.

"With all of the challenges created from introducing a new weapons system, our maintainers have responded with great drive and enthusiasm," said Lt. Col. Eric Hill, 8th SOS director of operations. "I've worked with many of these professionals before at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and can tell you we have assembled an outstanding team to lead the CV-22 toward combat operations."

Although the squadron has less than 60 personnel, Airmen and contractors included, more team members will join them before the year is out. The second of the 8th SOS's fleet will arrive within a month, and the crew will be ready to perform the exact same drill all over again.

Without the men and women of the 8th AMU, the newest page in Air Force history and the 8th SOS would never have been written.