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Maintainers remove aircraft ‘tail’ for first time

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brent Rose, a repair and reclamation specialist assigned to the 139th Maintenance Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, wipes down a bolt from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo., Feb. 7, 2017. Rose was assisting with aircraft maintenance that required the removal of the vertical stabilizer, or tail, of the aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Crane)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brent Rose, a repair and reclamation specialist assigned to the 139th Maintenance Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, wipes down a bolt from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo., Feb. 7, 2017. Rose was assisting with aircraft maintenance that required the removal of the vertical stabilizer, or tail, of the aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Crane)

U.S. Airmen from the 139th Maintenance Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, prepare to remove the vertical stabilizer from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo., Feb. 7, 2017. The stabilizer was removed in order to fix a crack on a support structure on which the stabilizer sits. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Crane)

U.S. Airmen from the 139th Maintenance Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, prepare to remove the vertical stabilizer from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo., Feb. 7, 2017. The stabilizer was removed in order to fix a crack on a support structure on which the stabilizer sits. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Crane)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brent Proffitt, a sheet metal mechanic assigned to the 139th Maintenance Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, sands down sheet metal on a C-130 Hercules aircraft at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo., Feb. 8, 2017. Proffitt was assisting with aircraft maintenance that required the removal of the vertical stabilizer, or tail, of the aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Crane)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brent Proffitt, a sheet metal mechanic assigned to the 139th Maintenance Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, sands down sheet metal on a C-130 Hercules aircraft at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo., Feb. 8, 2017. Proffitt was assisting with aircraft maintenance that required the removal of the vertical stabilizer, or tail, of the aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Crane)

U.S. Airmen from the 139th Maintenance Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, inspect the vertical stabilizer from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo., Feb. 7, 2017. The stabilizer was removed in order to fix a crack on a support structure on which the stabilizer sits. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Crane)

U.S. Airmen from the 139th Maintenance Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, inspect the vertical stabilizer from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo., Feb. 7, 2017. The stabilizer was removed in order to fix a crack on a support structure on which the stabilizer sits. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Crane)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. --

Master Sgt. Brian Gregory was performing a routine maintenance check on a C-130 Hercules aircraft recently, when he noticed a small crack underneath the vertical stabilizer. The crack was on a metal support structure on which the stabilizer, or tail, rests. In order to fix the crack, the entire tail of the aircraft would have to be removed.

“In my 20 years of working on these planes, I’ve never removed a tail before,” said Gregory, who is a crew chief assigned to the 139th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

The damaged structure could not be found in the Air Force supply system, so the maintainers had to fabricate it themselves. That involved creating a metal structure from scratch including a die, or mold, of the structure they needed to create. Once the dies were made, the extrusion [metal] had to be softened, bent in the dies, and then re-hardened to finish the part.                                                                                                                  

“We never have to worry about fixing anything because their expertise is phenomenal,” said Senior Master Sgt. Terry Ramseier, the fabrication section supervisor, referring to the maintainers.

Ramseier said the tail came off flawlessly. The tail remained off for a week allowing the maintainers to fabricate and install the part.

“Really proud of these guys, they did a great job,” he said.