Fabrication flight fixes, maintains aircraft structure

USAF photo: Airman 1st Class James R. Bell Airman 1st Class Stephen Johnson, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Operations Squadron, applies a protective sheet over a stencil of the special operations emblem at Building 199. This emblem will be placed onto an aircraft tail near the Landing.

By 1st Lt. George Tobias, 27th SOW Public Affair

Find, fix, paint. The airmen of the 27th Special Operations Equipment Maintenance Squadron’s fabrication flight do this and so much more.
Those who have gone to The Landing recently may have noticed signs of change here, courtesy of the flight.

The two tail sections from the F-111 and F-16 that flank the drive leading to the consolidated club have been refurbished by the fabrication flight and now reflect the new AFSOC mission here, replacing the ACC patches with AFSOC patches.

The project is just one of many the fabrication flight does on a regular basis around base.

The flight, which went from 111 airmen down to 70, encompasses three different career fields and is responsible for structural maintenance, metals technology, and non-destructive inspection of the aircraft here.

The aircraft structural maintenance section manages the structural repair, corrosion control and composite repair of the aircraft.

Comparing how the work load is different from working on F-16s to AFSOC aircraft, 2nd Lt. Brian Pedroza, fabrication flight commander, said that aside from being bigger with more moving parts, the type of work the structural maintenance section does won’t change much.

The metals technology section is responsible for everything from support equipment modifications to precisely manufacturing tools and aircraft parts. When mission requirements dictate a pressing demand for certain products, metals technology is always ready to weld, machine, or mill even the most complex components.

“When we are not [working on the flight line] we support pretty much every one on base,” said Tech. Sgt. Aaron Burton, 27th SOEMS. “If somebody has something broken, and they bring it in here, nine times out of 10 we can either fix it or make a new one.”

The non-destructive section performs investigations of aircraft, engines, aerospace ground equipment and other equipment and manages the oil analysis program. This section uses several methods such as fluorescent penetrant, which is an oil-based fluid with fluorescent dye, and X-ray techniques to find discontinuities such as cracks.

“Through our various inspection techniques and methods we can be classified as the ‘CSI’ of the maintenance world,” said Airman 1st Class Lucas Arlt, 27th SOEMS.

One of the X-ray inspections the section performed led to the discovery of a missing main engine control in a F110-GE-100 engine, said Arlt. “Without [that] element, engine failure was imminent.”

“The fabrication flight does an outstanding job day in and day out for the 27th Special Operations Maintenance Group,” said Capt. Michael Power, 27th SOEMS operations officer. “[They] are just some of the many unsung heroes in the 27th SOMXG.”

Examples of the fabrication flight’s work that can be seen around the base range from the aircraft on the flight line to the refurbishing of the airframes at the Air Park and even the AFSOC symbol seen in the wing conference room.

“We’re like the Last Chance Hotel,” said Burton. “If we can’t do it, it can’t be done.”