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Eielson's last A-10 carried on final flight

by Airman 1st Class Nora Anton
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/18/2007 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFPN) -- The last Eielson Air Force Base A-10 Thunderbolt II was strapped in and transported via C-5 Galaxy Oct. 6 from here to its new home at the Museum of Aviation Flight and Technology Center at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

The aircraft, tail number 75-0305, was being used for weapons ground training at Eielson AFB because of its inactivity since 1996 and the Air Force's need for trainers versus flying aircraft.

Dennis Oliver, the museum's chief of restoration and maintenance, said the Pacific Air Forces offered it to Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, after the A-10s left Eielson AFB.

The intent was for the aircraft to be used in the Air Force's museum, but Wright-Patterson AFB had no use for it and loaned it indefinitely to the museum at Robins AFB to be used as a static display outside the main entrance across from the static B-1B Lancer.

"We just had to find a way to get it down here and are responsible for all maintenance to be done to it," Mr. Oliver said. "Wright-Patterson officially owns it, but it's ours indefinitely." 

"This was a huge team effort to get this plane transferred down to Georgia in record time -- three months for dismantling, weight and balance specs, tie down calculations, building supports and crating, coordinating the C-5, and final transport approval," said Capt. Eric Withrow, the 354th Maintenance Squadron maintenance flight commander. "Communication is key when you're dealing with subject matter experts at four different Air Force bases." 

The actual disassembling of the aircraft took a team of eight maintainers three days to complete, said Master Sgt. Timothy McIntosh, the 354th MXS section chief.

"We took off both outer wings, both vertical stabilizers and the horizontal stabilizer," Sergeant McIntosh said. "This is also the first time that an A-10A has been dismantled at field level."

He said this kind of maintenance is usually done by the Ogden Air Logistics Center, depot maintenance team from Hill AFB, Utah, where all C-130 Hercules aircraft, A-10s and F-16 Fighting Falcons go for maintenance.

Disassembling and transporting this aircraft was quite unorthodox compared to how aircraft under the same conditions are usually transported.

"We didn't remove the landing gear and engines like the depot team would have," Sergeant McIntosh said. "Because of that, all the loading procedures had to be rewritten and updated."

Usually the landing gear, center wing and engines are removed and crated for shipment, rather than being transported in the cargo aircraft.

"We saved about four days of maintenance by doing it this way and getting it approved," he said. 

Generally getting approval for transport from the Air Transport Licensing Authority takes around 120 days to receive and authorize, Captain Withrow said. And although this was a museum asset -- never to fly again -- it still required an ATLA certification letter for transport.

"The last A-10 certification letter was done in 1986, so some revision was required after 22 years," he said. We're helping write the book on future A-10 transportation."

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