Team Six Leads The Way

  SSG Adrian Hill Exits, While Firebirds Fly Along our C-31's Wing TipsGreetings from the flight line here at Pope Army Airfield.  The Aviation Detachment continues supporting the absolute best paratroopers in the world.  We have two air shows under our belt for the 2014 season having recently completed the show at Travis Air Force Base, CA, and returning today from Lakehurst, NJ.  Of course we continue supporting local demonstrations and outreach projects to further connect the American People with America’s Army.    

  Many members of the public fly on commercial and public use aircraft but rarely have the opportunity to look at the maintenance that goes into keeping the fleet in top notch condition.

  This week we decided to snap a few pictures of the maintenance checks being performed on the C-31 Fokker, tail number 607 affectionately known as “Excalibur”.Excaliber

 

 

 

Both C-31 aircraft operated by the United States Army Parachute Team were acquired in 1985 and are pushing 30 years of service.  Both aircraft have in excess of 14,500 hours of total use thus far and over 15,000 landings.  These aircraft have a life span limited to 90,000 landings, and although they are technically in their infancy with regards to their service life, the rapid retirement of F27 from commercial use worldwide make the supply chain for spare parts a limited resource.  With 15,000 landings thus far, inspection of the landing gear system is a continuing process that we trust to our maintenance partners of Kay and Associates.  Below is a picture of the left side of the aircraft with the jack stand fully supporting a third of the total weight of around 28,000 pounds.jack

 

 

 

  Placing an aircraft on jacks requires maintenance professionals who are experts in the procedures.  Kay and Associates, as the team contract maintainers have a team of experts who have worked on this aircraft since it arrived at the team in 1985.  Testing the landing gear is a routine procedure for these professionals but the same level of attention to the procedure is given each and every time.  In the picture below, one mechanic observes cockpit indications while two additional mechanics check and recheck systems before the landing gear is brought to the up position during testing.

gearcheck  Excalibur gets new shoes and a close inspection of the nose gear. 

Typically, the aircraft weighs in excess of 42,000 pounds when fully loaded and departing for an air show.  While taxing, pilots use a small wheel located near each pilots knee that functions much like a car steering wheel.  Prior to take off, the crew unlocks the flight controls and the copilot maintains control of the yoke and the pilot flying steers the airplane down the runway using a combination of rudder and the nose wheel steering.  At 60 knots of airspeed, the pilot flying takes control of the aircraft from the copilot effecting a smooth transition from the runway to powered flight.  Flying the Fokker is a delicate balance of technique and crew coordination.

 

 

 Jackstand All aircraft are maintained according to factory specifications.  The US Army Parachute Team operates the only C-31 (Fokker F27) aircraft in the United States.  Aircraft of this type and design were used for many years by FedEx, Piedmont Airlines, and others as reliable commuter and freight carrying aircraft.

 

 

Team Six

Golden Knights Annual Certification Cycle Hawk streamers Battise documentation Bovee Hackett,Flynn JonesWatts MAJ Costin

 

 

 

 

 

Fokker5x7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With March on the horizon and only one month left in our Annual Certification Cycle, Team Six continues to rack up the safe flight hours and total lifts to altitude supporting all of the Golden Knights demonstrators.

Things have been very exciting here in Homestead!  We conducted night operations on the 13th beginning at 0100 and jumping through sunrise.  Jumping at night is always very exciting as we get to watch the demonstrators leave our aircraft into the dark of night and ignite pyrotechnics as they fall through the sky. 

We were visited by the former Team Six Commander, MAJ Craig Blackwood last week .   It is always good to have Golden Knight alums that stop in and check on us and continue to show their steadfast support. 

DAC Ken Breeden and CIV Frank Reiner of our maintenance team departed this week to pick up our newly painted C-31 Troopship 607.  The paint looks great and with a fresh maintenance overhaul and we look forward to placing her back into service for the upcoming show season.  Speaking of the C-31 Troopship; our detachment as part of the total team voted on various names to paint onto the C-31’s that will remain with those aircraft through their retirement.  The final names have not been released yet, but look for the names on the side of our aircraft as we stop through your town this year.

Our pilots and crewchiefs received their tentative show slating this week and know which teams they will support for the year and which shows they will participate in.  Signing up for shows is a process our team carries out each year and generally pilots and crew members get to travel to their hometowns if those shows are scheduled.  Even the most senior pilots get the gleam in their eye when the show schedule is released!   It’s a proud moment when our new pilots and crewmembers see their name next to a schedule show.

CW4 Jason Davis and CW3 David Burns redeployed to Fort Bragg to support the men and women’s competition teams in their workups for upcoming competitions.  The weather in February can be a challenge for jumping in North Carolina, but the pilots and competitors are putting in long days when the weather permits.

Finally, we welcomed a new crewchief, SGT Broderick DeArmas, to our team.  He comes to us from the 82d Combat Aviation Brigade where he worked in the Aviation Intermediate Maintenance facility. 

Until next time; Blue Skies!

 

Golden Knights Annual Certification Cycle

 

Black Team Demonstrator SSG Rese Pendelton ask’s What is is?

 

"GOT YOUR 6"

“GOT YOUR 6″

 

Team Six

The first two weeks of winter training has been very successful for Team Six. Thanks to everyones effort we deployed all available aircraft with no issues and were able to start supporting jump operations and a aircraft qualification the next day. That says a lot about the caliber of our maintainers of Kay and Associates, our Crew Chiefs, and Operations NCO who made it such a smooth transition.

 Now we’re starting to get settled into our flow of supporting daily operations and even flew two demonstrations into Homestead’s annual Rodeo with Black and Gold Teams. As the Annual Certification Cycle progresses we will continue to hone our skills and prepare for a great 2014 show season. Team Six is proud to support the world class U.S. Army Parachute Team, The Golden Knights.

 The road leading us to our Annual Certification Cycle was long and full of many moving pieces.  One of our C-31A aircraft went into heavy maintenance checks in December and was delivered back to us by our Maintenance Pilots Mr. Breeden and Mr. Reiner in early January.  The aircraft went right into the paint facility in Arkansas before we deployed to Florida.  We are all looking forward to demonstrating for the American public from the newly overhauled aircraft in 2014.

 We were assigned two new pilots over the summer along with one new crew chief.  CW3 David Burns, and CW4 Joshua Howe arrived at Pope Field to join our team and they haven’t taken a break yet.  Both pilots have a long history of flying UH-60 and CH-47 helicopters in combat and multiple fixed wing aircraft during their career.  SGT Jason Desando has been an excellent addition to our Aviation Detachment and comes to us from a CH-47 unit here at Fort Bragg.  All three of these Soldiers bring various unique experiences to our team and represent a nice cross section of our U.S. Army.  Look for all three during our upcoming show season.

 Our newest airborne teammates that graduated from 2013 Assessment and Selection are making us all proud and seem to be progressing nicely.  We have a Friday night tradition here in Florida of having “Wing Night” at the Value Place sponsored by the aircrews and maintainers.  It’s a great opportunity for all of us to unwind after a long week and tell stories on each other.   

As most of the East coast and deep South experienced snow this week, we were left with a large amount of rain and were nearly washed away.

Blue Skies!

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