2014 Golden Knights Aviator of the Year

14 Coston

Major Steven M. Coston was selected as the Golden Knight Aviator of the Year at the team’s Christmas party December 3, 2014. MAJ Coston is from Fayetteville, NC and assigned as the Detachment Commander for the United States Army Parachute Team Aviation Detachment.

MAJ Coston received his commission through the Army ROTC program at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia and began his service in the Army at Fort Rucker, Alabama in May 1999. His previous assignments include Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Huachuca, AZ; Wiesbaden, Germany; Fort George G. Meade, MD; and Arifjan, Kuwait. MAJ Coston has completed multiple combat deployments supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

MAJ Coston has earned the Senior Aviator Badge and Combat Action Badge; and awards including the Bronze Star Medal (1OLC), Meritorious Service Medal (1OLC), Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal (1OLC).

Hidden Guardian’s of the Knights’

GaurdiansLike the tales of days of ole the secret hero’s identities were rarely known. The US Army Parachute has a hidden team of skilled tradesmen that protect the lives of passengers they escort throughout the land.

We have an elite team of proficient expert contract maintainers from Kay and Associates, who work continually to maintain and assure the teams, make the mission safely and without delay.

It is not rare to see two aircraft docked in the team hangar at Pope Army Airfield on any given day. This week alone, they masterfully have already completed a 125 hour inspection on the teams Freedom, 80263 Twin Otter making several component changes.

Aircraft Mechanic, George Navy a trained Army Soldier and now contractor for “Team Six” checked the thirteen fuel nozzles, inspected filters, combustion in the Pratt & Whitney engine in lieu of the old planes carburetors.

I asked where they learned about maintaining all of the team’s fleet of aircraft and Jason Drozd, another of our skilled aircraft mechanics showed me the license he received from the FAA from the Airframe and Power Plant (AMP) School which he attended for two years. He also explained various part of the engine to include the operation of a hi- capacity capacitor and how it received a voltage charge.

George invited us back to observe the Hot Section Inspection, which will be done in about forty more hours of flight for our Fokker 607. They routinely conduct that inspection on our C-31’s every 3,000 hours of flight, which makes me feel really comfortable.

This Team of experts has competently worked on our two C-31 Friendship Fokker’s since they arrived at the team in 1985. These aircraft have a life span limited to 90,000 landings, but both of our aircraft have in excess of 14,500 hours of total use thus far and over 15,000 landings.

Being I personally fly in the team aircraft along with demonstrators, competitors, Tandem Team and Centers of Influence it is so assuring to know just how safe we are due to the outstanding service and maintenance of these Our Kay and Associates Hero’s!

Freedom One of four of the  USAPT Twin Otters

Freedom One of four of the USAPT Twin Otters

13 Fuel Nozzles to be changed

13 Fuel Nozzles to be changed

George Navy pulling down cowlings to work on aircraft

George Navy pulling down cowlings to work on aircraft

Aircraft Mechanic Jason Drozd by Freedom

Aircraft Mechanic Jason Drozd by Freedom

Fuel Nozzles on Twin Otter Freedom

George Navy Checking Hartaell Prop During 125 Hour Inspection

Gear Check on C-31 Friendship Fokker

Gear Check on C-31 Friendship Fokker

 

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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.

 

 

 

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