--YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan --
At Yokota Air Base, members of the 374th Maintenance Squadron are working around the clock to ensure that the C-130 Hercules can continue to operate safely within the Indo-Asia Pacific region. While the countless hours the maintainers spend repairing aircraft on the flightline is easy to see, there is just as much going on behind the scenes in the maintenance backshops. Such is the case with the 374 MXS accessories flight.
Made up of three shops, the flight supports Yokota’s mission by testing, installing and repairing internal components for the C-130s and transient aircraft. These shops are electrical and environmental, hydraulics and fuels maintenance. Each of these specialists are trained to work the flightline so often fill in for manning shortages in addition to their primary duties.
“We’re here for the Maintenance Group as a whole, ready to fill in for any tasking that needs a maintainer,” said Senior Airman Stephen Mullen, 374 MXS electrical and environmental systems journeyman. “When we’re not performing isochronal maintenance inspections we are out there helping our guys on the line put aircraft in the sky because that’s just another part of taking care of each other.”
The electrical and environmental shop is responsible for storing and maintaining aircraft batteries, liquid and gaseous oxygen carts and ISO dock inspections for electrical systems aboard Yokota’s C-130s. They also provide support for C-130J Super Hercules and MC-130H Combat Talon IIs from Kadena Air Force Base in addition to commercial aircraft that visit the base.
Hydraulics maintainers specialize in repairing and replacing hoses that are vital to the operation of moving parts aboard the C-130. This includes brakes, steering, lights and the cargo door. All of the hoses are tested in the hydraulics backshop, prior to installation, at twice the pressure experienced aboard the aircraft.
“When we replace a broken part on a C-130 we take that part back to our shop and give it a complete overhaul,” said Tech. Sgt. Brandon Luck, 374 MXS hydraulics section chief. “Once it’s fixed it goes back into the supplies system ready for the next aircraft that needs it.”
Providing 24-hour coverage, the fuels maintenance shop completes the triad of the accessories flight. The fuels shop, unsurprisingly, is responsible for all fuel transferred into and out of an aircraft’s fuel tank. In the case of the C-130 these tanks are located in the wings, requiring the maintainers to crawl around inside them to troubleshoot issues on the flightline. More in-depth repairs to the various pumps and valves are usually conducted in their backshop.
“We are on the mission essential systems listing because without fuel our C-130s can’t fly,” said Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Schmidt, 374 MXS fuels systems craftsman. “Our job’s extremely important, that’s true for every shop really, but we really do know these aircraft inside and out.”
The three sections of the accessories flight embody the concept of teamwork. By working hand in hand with each other and their fellow maintainers from the 374th Maintenance Group, they enable Yokota to accomplish its airlift mission.