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.


 
 

 
Senior Airman Grace Lee

2015 NFL Pro Bowl players practice at Luke

Senior Airman Grace Lee Aqib Talib, Denver Broncos cornerback, assigned to Team Carter, signs footballs for fans at Luke. NFL Pro Bowl players came to the Luke Air Force Base football field Jan. 21 to practice and sign autograp...
 
 

Let’s be an all-volunteer force

Well, we made it through the holiday season. Hopefully we have all reset and are ready to rock and roll this year. By now we should be well into fulfilling the New Year’s resolutions that we set in place to improve ourselves. I’m sure you are hitting the gym more or maybe just starting to....
 
 

Stay out of rain; see bigger picture

Supervisors, you build and lead teams to the best of your abilities. You hold an umbrella of protection over your people, but what do you do when one of your members runs into the rain via a bad decision? Do you take your protective umbrella from other members to go cover your solo member? Or...
 

 
Senior Airman
GRACE LEE

Luke 1 takes last Viper ride

Senior AirmanGRACE LEE Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander, returns from his last flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon Jan. 23 at Luke Air Force Base. Pleus’ last flight symbolizes Luke stepping forward with a ne...
 
 

News Briefs January 30, 2015

VH1 concert VH1 and sponsors supporting the event are hosting a Super Bowl Blitz concert featuring Fall Out Boy and Charli XCX at 5 p.m. today in Hangar 999 as a “Thank you” to those who serve in the U.S. military. Members of the Luke community are invited and the concert is free. Service members...
 
 
Senior Airman 
DEVANTE WILLIAMS

61st AMU assigns first F-35 dedicated crew chiefs

Senior AirmanDEVANTE WILLIAMS Members of the 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit dedicated crew chiefs prepare to recite the Mechanic’s Creed during the recognition ceremony Jan. 23 in Hanger 431 at Luke Air Force Base. Seventeen ...
 




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