Fixing a multi-million dollar puzzle

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christopher Callaway
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

When an aircraft is grounded due to physical damage here, it is the job of Airmen with the 1st Special Operations Maintenance Squadron to stand ready to repair the aircraft to send back out to the flightline.

These Airmen are trained aircraft structural maintenance specialists assigned to the sheet metal shop and maintain the CV-22B Osprey, AC-130U Spooky, MC-130H Combat Talon II and, the newest addition to the Hurlburt Field fleet, the AC-130J Ghostrider.

“This job allows me the opportunity to be creative with my hands,” said Senior Airman Dalton Obenshain, 1st SOMXS aircraft structural maintenance journeyman. “Every job and every build is different, we do not have to do the exact same thing over and over again.”

Since the Hurlburt Field fleet is getting older, the sheet metal Airmen specialize in re-making cracked or corroded parts that can no longer be ordered from a manufacturer.

Through their training and experience, these Airmen save the Air Force more than $100,000 annually by building parts with their available resources rather than ordering new parts. 

“The thing I like the most about the job is taking a flat piece of metal and making it into a working part of an aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. David Sidatt, 1st SOMXS aircraft structural maintenance journeyman. “We have the ability to create something out of nothing.”

Airmen like Sidatt and Obenshain are responsible for the structural integrity of the aircraft’s shell and substructure, including the metal beams and rods that hold the aircraft together.

The 1st SOMXS aircraft structural maintenance specialists build various parts that have an impact on the mission and lives of others.

“I take a lot of pride in what I put out because in the end, everyone can see it,” said Obenshain. “The most satisfying thing I do every week is making the cleanest repair possible. For me, it’s like a puzzle and I take pride in the piece I made that fits perfectly.”