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Maintenance Series Part Two

It’s been a busy two weeks with no rest in sight for the maintainers and aircrews of Team Six.  The Fokker Ambassador and Excalibur performed simultaneous shows supporting Black and Gold demonstration teams at Jones Beach, NY, Cape Girardeau, MO. and Salute to Veterans, Columbia, Mo.  Black Team and the supporting aircrew had the opportunity to perform in front of record crowds at Jones Beach, while Gold team wowed audiences in MO and jumped into a parade for Memorial Day.

As part two of our three part maintenance series, I’d like to share with our fans our process of identifying maintenance faults on aircraft while on the road and what our skilled mechanics do to keep our fleet in a high level of readiness as the air show season rolls along.

The first part of every successful flight is a thorough check of the weather, aircraft records, weight of our passengers, and all other items deemed necessary to ensure the flight is completed in a safe and economical manner.

During the trip to Jones Beach, NY, the Fokker “Ambassador” developed a fuel seep that was identified by a very small amount of fuel on the underside of one of Ambassador’s wings.  After checking maintenance logs and procedures, the crew of Ambassador determined that the mission could still be conducted and the maintenance was deferred until Ambassador returned to Pope Army Air Field.

The C-31 has what is commonly known as a “Wet Wing”.  Aircraft generally carry fuel in the wings and do this by utilizing either a rubber bladder consisting of several interconnected cells, or in the case of the Ambassador, a wet wing which has no internal containment system to hold all 9200lbs of fuel; that is to say, when fuel is loaded onto the C-31, it is contained only by the metal skin of the aircraft.  As one can imagine, wet wings can develop leaks if inspection and access panels are not properly sealed or if a seal breaks down over time under normal use.

Repairing a leak in the wet wing of Ambassador turned out to be a time consuming process that could only be entrusted to our maintenance partners of Kay and Associates.  The first step in repairing our leak was to defuel the aircraft.  This is a time consuming process requiring a fuel truck to reverse its pumps and empty out all 1300 gallons of fuel.  The pictures below show the required removal,repair, and reinstallation of the access panels that are located in the underside of each wing.

The underside of the left wing of the  Ambassador.  Notice three wet bay access panels removed for servicing.

The underside of the left wing of the Ambassador. Notice three wet bay access panels removed for servicing.

Jimmie Carrier installs rubber seals to one of the wet bay access panels.  This is a time consuming task that requires the highest attention to detail.

Jimmie Carrier installs rubber seals to one of the wet bay access panels. This is a time consuming task that requires the highest attention to detail.

This picture shows one of the fuel inspection panels with a portion of the fuel measuring system that transmits fuel levels to the cockpit.

This picture shows one of the fuel inspection panels with a portion of the fuel measuring system that transmits fuel levels to the cockpit.

Michael Moore removes an inspection panel under the wing.

Michael Moore removes an inspection panel under the wing.

 

 

 

FLCPA Meet

  

The US Parachute Team for Canopy Piloting photo by SFC Jared Zell

The US Parachute Team for Canopy Piloting photo by SFC Jared Zell

What a week!  The Golden Knights canopy piloting team spent the last 12 days in Zephyrhills, FL competing in the final Florida Canopy Piloting Association (FLCPA) meet of the season and the USPA National Championships of Canopy Piloting. 

   The final FLCPA meet of the year was also the largest.  Just days before Nationals, Canopy Pilots from across the globe came out to fine tune their flying skills.  Over 60 competitors took to the skies making the competition a very tight race for the top spots.  A strong tail wind was the story of the day helping the competitors go faster and further than most have gone before.  By the end of the FLCPA meet SFC Greg Windmiller, SFC Joe Abeln and SFC Jared Zell all finished in the top 10 of the final five meet league standings. 

   Two days after the FLCPA wrapped up, USPA Nationals of Canopy Piloting began. Nearly 80 Competitors showed up to Skydive City for the competition.  Three rounds of each Speed, Distance and Zone Accuracy are the events for nationals.  This year was also a selection year for making the 8 person US Team for the up coming World Championships later this year also at Skydive City.  The jumpers completed five rounds of competition by the end of the first day, all three rounds of speed and two rounds of distance. The second day finished out the last four rounds.  A stiff head wind picked up for the afternoon making the final round of Zone Accuracy very challenging. 

    

SFC Joe Abeln salutes the camera on exit. Photo by Randy Swallows

SFC Joe Abeln salutes the camera on exit. Photo by Randy Swallows

When the scores were posted the Golden Knights had a lot to celebrate.  SFC Joe Abeln took a Bronze medal in Zone Accuracy and an 8th place overall finish making the US Team as an alternate.  SFC Greg Windmiller despite a shoulder injury finished a Bronze medal overall and making the US Team in 3rd place.

SFC Joe  Abeln

SFC Joe Abeln going for distance photo by Jim Harris

SFC Joe Abeln going for distance photo by Jim Harris

SFC Joe Abeln wins the Bronze Medal in Zone Accuracy photo by Jared Zell

SFC Joe Abeln wins the Bronze Medal in Zone Accuracy photo by Jared Zell

Golden Knights Kick off Skyfest at Fairchild

Magnificient Starburst shot by team videographer SSG Trey Martin

Magnificient Starburst shot by team videographer SSG Trey Martin

 After a festive Memorial Day weekend the Gold Demonstration Team departed Columbia, MO, and headed to SkyFest Air Show at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, WA for Skyfest 2014. The air show fans were really excited since this was the first air show at Fairchild since 2010 due to budget restraints.

  The team was ready to hit the ground running and start off a great weekend for the Spokane community. Throughout the weekend the team was able to take up various media and service members from all branches to get a firsthand look.  The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, Stearman Formation Team, Cascade Warbirds and Smoke and Thunder were a few acts also present this weekend, which gave outstanding performances.

 Sunday morning after the mass demonstration, Team Leader SFC Dustin Peregrin presented the Mayor of Spokane, Mayor David Condon, a baton which was flown in free fall. The team then packed their parachutes in the crowd with the assistance of enthusiastic recruits from the audience and quickly returned to the blue skies for the final performance of the day.

SGT Blake Gaynor jumped in at show center and narrated the entrance of his fellow teammates for the final Sunday afternoon show, which closed our weekend out with a complete success. 

 The team would like to thank all those from Fairchild AFB and Spokane for providing such great support for not only the Golden Knights but for all the performers present this weekend.   SSG Clevenger, Photos by SGT Trey Martin

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