The 56th Operations Support Squadron Airfield Ops team leads from the front!
The extreme cold and hot swings of winter weather plays havoc on the concrete runways at Luke Air Force Base.
Monolithic concrete structures, like runways require expansion joints to keep concrete from failing. Here at Luke, just like other airfields, we use a product called joint sealant.
Joint sealant is material that is put in concrete joints to allow the concrete to expand in warm weather and contract in cold weather without causing damage to the pavement and the underlying foundation. Sealant protects joints from pavement distresses such as spalling (breaking apart of concrete) and keeps moisture and corrosive material from infiltrating the subgrade, which would eventually cause concrete slab failure. Sealant plays a vital role in protecting Luke airfield pavement.
Recently, cold weather at Luke caused the slabs to contract. Unfortunately, the aging joint seal were unable to expand to fill the cracks between the concrete. These seals, under the pressure of take-offs and landings, eventually fail liberating themselves and becoming a foreign object debris hazard. Each day airfield management surveys the runways for FOD.
Recently, AMOPs when doing a morning sweep, found multiple instances where the seal was failing or failed. The AMOPs team went into action determining short-term actions and long-term plans to repair the runway.
Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Ludwig, aided by Staff Sgts. Charles Giertz and Jared Linke sprung into action organizing their Airmen. Along with their efforts, the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron provided trucks, loaders and manpower to remove the sealant. After 11 long and grueling hours, the loose sealant was removed and the runway was ready for flying operations. In total, five truckloads were removed. Meanwhile the AMOPs leadership team worked with the wing to secure emergency funding to repair the sealant for a permanent fix.
In the wee hours of the following morning, the result of more than 100 man hours of work came to fruition. The runway was ready for sustained operations.
The hard work and dedication of the AMOPs, Air Traffic Control and CES deserve huge credit for accomplishing our mission here at Luke AFB. Training the world’s greatest fighter pilots takes a team of people from across the base and community to generate airpower for America.
However, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. Tail wind components exceeded safe conditions and the wing was forced to operate on Runway 03L.
Again, AMOPs worked with OGV to direct aircraft to take off from an intersecting taxiway. This temporary measure reduced available runway for departures by 3,000 feet and significantly increased risks. The permanent solution was funded and projected to start in five days. Again, teaming with CES, contracting, and the contractor, the start date was backed up leaving 56th FW to accept the risk for two additional days of flying. AMOPs personnel were not satisfied. Led by Giertz and Linke, two teams of six OSS personnel working with CES sweeper support began removing loose joint seal from the runway in between launches and recoveries.
Additionally these teams provided visual inspections after all departing flights. From 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. the two teams removed five heaping truckloads of sealant weighing more than 1,000 pounds. After wing flying, CES and AMOPs removed additional loose joint seal, and by the next day, the issue of the sealant blowing up after take offs had dwindled to nothing. Normal flying operations resumed.
Because of the hard work and dedication of these two teams and CES Airmen, the contractor removed the remaining joint seal in 20 percent of the estimated time.
Again, the leadership of Giertz and Linke and the teamwork between Operations Support Squadron personnel, OGV, CES and CONS averted a major FOD incident and communication and prioritization of personnel and funding accelerated the resolution of the joint seal problem.