Behind the rapid mission of the 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., mainly revolving around lethal attack and rescue aircraft, a three-man shop works non-stop on aircraft parts that do not cross most minds.
By the end of day, those Airmen leave work with grease stained shirts, pants and hands knowing they positively impacted the base mission.
The 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron Wheel and Tire shop inspects, disassembles and reassembles HC-130J Combat King II, EC-130H Compass Call, A-10 Thunderbolt II and HH-60G Pave Hawk wheels and tires.
“We fulfill the needs of the different maintenance unit here,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Williams, 355th EMS Wheel and Tire shop noncommissioned officer in charge. “Without a good set of tires on aircraft they won’t be able to do their missions.”
Airman work on approximately 800 inspections and assemblies yearly in support of more than 100 Davis-Monthan aircraft and their flying operations.
“Every aircraft in the Air Force requires wheels,” said Airman 1st Class Blake Stacy, 355th EMS Wheel and Tire shop technician. “We make sure that we provide our pilots wheels that are secure and safe for aircraft to take off and land with.”
Apart from prioritizing in safety and mission readiness, the shop is always looking for new innovative ways to save time and resources.
Recently, the section chief of the wheels and tire shop, Master Sgt. Justin Bauer, designed a prototype tool for all C-130 wheels.
“This new process gives us a bit more work but also more experience on disassembling that type of wheel,” said Stacy. “It also shows younger Airmen that if there is an idea to help the mission, we should speak up and share them.”
The new tool allows the team to overhaul the process inhouse instead of delivering the 4-and-a-half-foot wheel to Hill, Air Force Base, Utah. This helped cut down on customer wait time and saved Davis-Monthan and the Air Force more than $624,000 annually.
Even when working out of sight, Airmen can have monumental impacts on mission-readiness and resources, and keep the wheels of the wing’s mission spinning.
“We’re still a part of the main backbone of maintenance,” said Williams. “Just because one might not know we exist, we still put in our share of hard work and dedication to make things happen whether it’s noticed or not.”