Friday, November 14, 2014

TOP STORY >> The black-letter initial

By Airman 1st Class Mercedes Muro 
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Members of the 314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron accomplished a rare maintenance feat on a C-130 Oct. 29 at Little Rock Air Force Base, and marking a local achievement for the unit.

Aircraft 5732, a C-130J assigned to the 314th AMXS, received black-letter initial status after landing with zero discrepancies. After the first sortie, the aircraft proceeded to receive three more black-letter initial flights. 

“It’s unbelievable,” said Senior Airman Jesus Abejar, a 314th AMXS assistant crew chief assigned to Aircraft 5732. “I never imagined it would happen in my career. It’s a pretty rare thing to happen.”

The phrase black-letter initial flight originates from the 781H form used to inspect C-130s before and after each flight. Crew chiefs use the form as a checklist. When there is a discrepancy, it is highlighted with an x, a dash or a forward slash in red pen.  When there are no discrepancies, the person checking the aircraft will sign the form with their initials in black ink. 

Since Little Rock AFB gained the aircraft in the summer of 2013, many people might assume the aircraft should receive black-letter initial status often. However, the 314th AMXS C-130s accumulate high numbers of sorties and maintenance repairs over a short period of time because of their support to the training mission on base. 

“It’s a new plane, but it’s not always going to get black-letter,” said Senior Airman Trenton Torgerson, a 314th AMXS assistant crew chief assigned to Aircraft 5732. “It already has more than 200 sorties and approximately 1,000 maintenance actions on it. So when something like a black-letter initial happens, it makes you feel good.”

Although Abejar and Torgerson are the assistant crew chiefs for the aircraft, the entire 314th AMXS can call the black-letter initial their own victory.

“Everybody helped out,” said Abejar. “Everybody in the squadron contributed. We all came out here and made it happen.” 

While the 314th AMXS pockets the black-letter initial status, the squadron will continue to work together as they help field the world’s best combat airlifters.

“This black-letter initial is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the 314th AMXS gold section,” said Staff Sgt. William McLeod, the 314th AMXS dedicated crew chief for Aircraft 5732. “The black-letter initial is proof of the hard work of the knowledgeable Airmen who keep the mission going on a daily basis.” 

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