Helicopter maintenance Airmen support ‘spin-up’ exercise
By Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan, 23rd Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 19, 2016
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Airmen from the 723rd Aircraft Maintenane Squadron 41st Helicopter Maintenance Unit worked around the clock to ensure aircraft were combat ready during a pre-deployment "spin-up" exercise Dec. 5 through 15 at Patrick AFB.
Spin-up training is a high-tempo ritual for the 41st Rescue Squadron which is designed to mimic real-world, deployed flying operations. This training would be impossible, however, without constant maintenance performed quickly and skillfully.
“Maintenance plays a huge role in this exercise by getting the aircraft off the ground and flying,” said Capt. Robert Smith, 41st RQS pilot. “We’re executing at a tempo that is going to be very similar to how we’ll be operating when we’re deployed, so this is also good practice for them to fit the maintenance into the flying needs of our rigid alert cycle.”
Although the "spin-up" was primarily meant for the aircrew, it also helped to test and prepare the maintainers.
“If the birds are broken, they can’t fly,” said Staff Sgt. Caleb Castillo, HMU aerospace propulsion technician. “We’re here to make sure [the helicopters] are functioning properly, so the crews can get the training they need.
“Our maintainers are putting in the hours,” Castillo continued. “The tempo is definitely way up. We’re all going on this deployment together, so we're specifically training for that tempo. [As a maintainer], you're looking at what you're going to go do downrange, rather than just your day-in, day-out training missions back home.”
With the high-demands put on the aircraft, Smith credits the maintainers with keeping the birds in the sky.
“We’re putting a lot of hours on the aircraft right now,” Smith said. “We’re really flying them hard, and they've done a great job getting them back and turning them for the next day. Every time we deploy, they’ve always been stellar.”