Uncategorized

March 28, 2014

Pulling parts: ‘Gravediggers’ keep maintainers supplied with aircraft parts

Joe Gasak celebrates his pull of a C-130 Hercules starter after working two hours to get the part free. His team pulls parts from more than 4,400 aircraft contained within the “Boneyard.”

Mark Antoniotti is a “gravedigger,” but he doesn’t work at a typical cemetery. Instead of rows of tombstones and mausoleums, his graveyard contains the remains of mechanical beasts and metal relics column after column.

This graveyard is the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, commonly referred to as the “Boneyard,” and is located on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. The group’s mission is to store retired military aircraft, so they can be preserved for future use or to provide valuable and hard-to-find parts to customers around the globe.

As a gravedigger, Antoniotti’s job is to pull parts from the more than 4,400 aircraft contained within the Boneyard.

“This job is critical to the troops overseas,” said Antoniotti, who has worked with the 309th AMARG for more than 24 years. “If they had to wait for a part to be made, it could down an aircraft for who knows how long. It would cripple the warfighter.”

The gravediggers are broken into two teams: priority removal and routine reclamation. Each team pulls aircraft parts, but they differ in what parts they pull and how much time they have to pull them.

Priority removal teams pull parts from aircraft that need to be sent out as soon as possible, such as to deployed units overseas, Antoniotti said. Meanwhile, the routine reclamation teams often have more time because they usually pull larger parts or parts not considered high priority.

The 309th AMARG doesn’t just supply much-needed parts to the fleet. It also saves the Air Force a lot of money.

“We save taxpayers millions of dollars every year by pulling and cleaning these parts,” Antoniotti said. “We’re reusing parts that are still good.”

Working as a gravedigger for more than two decades, Antoniotti has seen just about everything.

“There are all kinds of danger on the job,” he said. “We’ve got everything from rattlesnakes to slippery aircraft and sometimes we’re working at pretty extreme heights.”

Frank Luna, an aircraft mechanic with the priority removal team, is also aware of the risks associated with working in the Arizona desert.

“We’re not walking into aircraft that are complete,” he said. “Some of the aircraft are old, and they can fall apart at any given moment.”

Billy Amparano, another member of the priority removal team, isn’t just aware of the dangers the job can pose, his body is a living testament to the fact. Working in the Boneyard has left him with torn ligaments in one knee and took the middle finger on his left hand.

Despite the dangers of the job, the gravediggers keep climbing over, under and through the decaying mechanical giants because they know their mission is supporting a much larger one.

“The bigger picture is to support the war-fighter and help them overseas,” Antoniotti said.” That’s what our mission is and why we’re here.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
square

Luke conducts first F-35 training deployment

Senior Airman Thomas Spangler A 61st Fighter Squadron F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter taxis prior to take off April 15 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Ten F-35s from the 61st Fighter Squadron were sent to Nellis for th...
 
 

The gift of leadership

Gen. Mark Welsh III may have said it best, “Leadership is a gift. It’s given by those who follow. You have to be worthy of it.” As the people of this nation give their children up to serve in the armed forces we as leaders need to be ready to lead them as they are...
 
 

Have faith in Air Force system

Throughout our Air Force careers, we have all received extensive training covering the Air Force core values — integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. We talk about them on a daily basis in one capacity or another using them as buzz words to drive our point home or steer a...
 

 

Sidewinders fly missing-man formation

A missing-man formation flyover took place at the Air Force Academy Cemetery April 14, to honor a fallen Airman whose remains were repatriated and laid to rest. Pilots from the 311th Fighter Squadron of the 54th Fighter Group from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, flew it. Capt. Richard Chorlins, U.S. Air Force Academy class...
 
 

Birth of a flagship

Courtesy photo An F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter taxis at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility just before its first flight March 31. This jet is one of several Lightning IIs destined for Luke Air Force Base in the near future after flight testing. Tail number 5056 is scheduled to be the 56th Fighter...
 
 

News Briefs April 24, 2015

Days of Remembrance There will be a Holocaust remembrance ceremony at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Luke Air Force Base Chapel sanctuary. The Hiding Place exhibit will be on display 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 1 in the chapel annex. AFA golf tournament The 16th Annual Air...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin