by Senior Airman Harry Brexel
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The 19th Maintenance Squadron fuel systems repair flight ensures various aircraft fuel systems are in top condition to execute combat airlift anywhere, at a moment’s notice.
“Our job is mission essential; planes can’t fly without fuel,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Catherine Wade, 19th MXS aircraft fuel systems repair journeyman.
Without the dedicated team of approximately 50 Airmen, the installation’s fleet of C-130s would be nothing more than oversized paper weights. A defective fuel system can take down an aircraft in seconds.
A typical day for a 19th MXS fuel systems repair technician consists of long hours and maintenance, which often requires descending into tanks that are normally filled with highly flammable jet fuel.
“It’s dirty, but we do it for the end goal of supporting the Combat Airlift mission,” Wade said. “C-130s are vital in taking people and equipment to the fight.”
The 19th MXS fuel systems repair team works around the clock on approximately 60 aircraft. Squeezing themselves into holes that are less than 2 feet in circumference, Airmen enter these confined spaces to diagnose malfunctions, seal and maintain components of the fuel tank.
“This job allows no room for error,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Craig Odum, 19th Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuel systems repair section chief. “Attention to detail is vital.”
Despite the challenges associated with performing fuel system maintenance tasks, Airmen spend hours in the darkness to ensure the safety of the lives of anyone traveling in the Home of Combat Airlift’s C-130 fleet.