For Travis Air Force Base, a normal day's workload for C-5 maintainers is demanding. They launch enough aircraft to meet the needs of military forces stationed around the globe. Double that for a surge of in-system C-5s worldwide and it's a daunting task, said Col. David Coley, 60th Maintenance Group commander.
For one week, Oct.17 to 21, U.S. Transportation Command will have 41 C-5s flying mobility missions. Of those aircraft, a third of them will launch from Travis, as part of a demonstration of flexibility to meet strategic airlift needs for rapid global mobility.
"We need 14 here on station to launch the 12 for the surge," Coley said. "It requires multiple daily meetings to game plan for all the maintenance that needs to be accomplished on all of them. If they're off station, we need to get them here to meet the surge."
"These aircraft require lots of maintenance, because their systems are not singular," said Col. Sonny Giddings, 349th Maintenance Group commander. "There are multiples of gears, equipment and functions on the C-5.
"It's a balancing act to get the right Air Force specialty codes matched up to meet the maintenance needs," he said. That's where the reservists on extended orders come in, supporting their active duty counterparts. With maintenance working three shifts around the clock, Reservists work alongside with 60th AMW Airmen, wherever they are needed.
Both the colonels said they are up against about five or six other operations, or issues, they have to consider; including European based operations, the coming holidays, leave and family time and increased maintenance on hydraulics and fuel leaks, that occur with the incoming winter weather.
Also, at least a couple of times a month, the C-5 is carrying precious cargo -- a load of fresh fruits and vegetables -- to a lonely little atoll in the Pacific, for pick-up and transfer to the troops supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Coley said they could move around scheduled maintenance when feasible, to meet the needs of the surge. Giddings added that the Reserve is able to cover maintenance needs on two separate unit training assembly weekends per month.
Coley said Travis is going well above their commitment tempo.
"But we are ready to show the Air Mobility Command commander that we have the ability to flex to meet our commitment," he said.
by Senior Master Sgt. Ellen Hatfield
349th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs