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.


 
 

 
Staff Sgt. 
STACI MILLER

Luke ‘deploys’ youngest Airmen

Staff Sgt.STACI MILLER Gabriel Gutierrez, age 5, son of Staff Sgt. Arlene Gutierrez, 56th Security Forces Squadron, gives high fives as he goes through the welcome home line during Operation KIDS Saturday at Luke Air Forces Bas...
 
 

Warrior ethos puts will to test

It is important for us as warriors to put our physical fitness test in proper perspective. Airmen need to be physically able to do their job, and currently the Air Force measures their fitness with a simple test. This article is not to debate if the current test actually gives an accurate indication of fitness...
 
 

You, too, can empower innovation

Innovation is the lifeblood of progress. Without it we wouldn’t have the automobile, airplane or computer. We may have never made it to an industrial revolution. At every level of our species, from the individual level to the societal level, compelling change is how we grow, and it is innovators that drive this. In the...
 

 
Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer

CES inspects base infrastructure

Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer Staff Sgt. Steven Stein, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron electrical subject matter expert, points out a damaged water heater Oct. 24 to Senior Airman Sandham Challis, 56th CES structural subject matter exp...
 
 

News Briefs October 31, 2014

Base-wide exercise The 56th Fighter Wing will conduct a base-wide exercise Wednesday. The exercise will include military and local, county and state law enforcement, and fire departments. On and off-base residents should expect traffic disruptions, gate closures or delays, and interruptions of customer service operations. Expect to see simulated explosions, smoke, role players depicting individ...
 
 
Courtesy photo

Airman changes lanes in life

Courtesy photo Airman 1st Class Kelton Rall Those who have had a hard life often say it is hard to overcome the past. “It’s almost like climbing out of a dark hole – one mistake and you fall deeper into the abyss,” said...
 




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