SALT LAKE CITY --
Six crew chiefs and two production members with the 151st Maintenance Group trained alongside their active duty counterparts from Hill Air Force Base, Utah on F-35 Lightning II recovery procedures on June 9 here at Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base.
Training with the F-35, Hill AFB’s newest aircraft, is important for the Air Guard crew chiefs because they may need to assist with landing procedures here in the future. As the primary alternate airstrip for Hill, the Air National Guard Base is used by aircraft that have been rerouted due to a runway closure.
“Sometimes there is bad weather, or if they have any maintenance issues and have to shut down a runway we are able to provide divert options,” said Col. Ryan Ogan, Vice Wing Commander of the 151st Air Refueling Wing.
The Air Guard Base is located approximately 30 miles away from Hill Air Force Base at the Salt Lake International Airport.
“We work frequently with our active duty counterparts at Hill,” said Ogan. “Maintaining this cooperation and good working relationship benefits our base and Hill. We are in a good location to help them when they need to use an alternate runway and they can provide that same function for us if we ever need it.”
When an aircraft is redirected, Command Post will be notified that they need to land here, said 1st Lt. Enoch Pitzer, 151st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Operations Officer. Command Post will coordinate with airfield management and maintenance and they will direct the aircraft where to go, then our personnel will marshal them in and chock the aircraft.
“They land here and they don’t have time to get their maintenance guys down here before they land, so we have to park them and pin them and wait for their guys to come down,” said Pitzer.
Staff Sgt. Ryan King, a crew chief with the 151st AMXS attended the training provided by the F-35 crew chiefs.
“They taught us how to catch any transient F-35s that came in due to weather diverts or anything like that,” said King. “They taught us how to safely and effectively pin out the landing gears and effectively ‘safe’ the jet for maintenance.”
According to King, because the F-35s are still relatively new to Hill, the 151st MXG personnel have not seen many redirected to the Air Guard Base. However, as the number stationed at Hill increases he said they could have more F-35s rerouted here.
“If for some reason they have to divert down to us, we can effectively catch them and get them to a point where their own set of crew chiefs can come down and do what needs to be done servicing or maintenance wise,” said King.
Roland R. Wright Air Guard Base is used by aircraft from Hill as an alternate airfield 10-12 times per year, said Pitzer.
“Our maintenance personnel are trained for the F-16 and the F-35 because they are at Hill and we know the chances of them coming here are higher,” he said.
In addition to those aircraft, Pitzer said they can also assist with transient KC-135s, C-130s, C-17s and C-5s.