News: 30,000 hours later - Rock C-130E completes final run
By Thomas Doscher
386th Air Expeditionary Wing
SOUTHWEST ASIA - After 47 years of service without a single hit, a C-130E with the 386th Expeditionary Operations Group has flown its last combat mission and will be retired to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
The 386th EOG and Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron celebrated the retirement of aircraft 1847 by dousing the aircraft with a deluge of water from two fire trucks as it taxied from its final mission.
"She's a good plane," said Capt. Kevin Graham, 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron aircraft commander. "We never had any problems with her."
Capt. Graham flew 1847 on numerous missions and was glad he was able to fly it on its final combat mission.
"We flew it over its 30,000th hour mark," the Pittsburgh native bragged. "It's cool that we got to fly it down here, past its 30,000th hour and its final combat mission. It's impressive that we can have an aircraft that's 47 years old and still in the fight. You can't live without them."
Aircraft 1847 accumulated 30,100 hours over its 47-year career, the equivalent of flying three-and-a-half years without landing.
Staff Sgt. Brad Kretschmer, 386th EAMXS, a son of Burlington, Wis., and deployed from Ramstein AB, Germany, spent the last three and a half years as 1847's dedicated crew chief. He said the old Hercules still has plenty of fight left in her.
"She's done this much for us so far, I think she's got a lot left in her," he said. "You're not going to see many of these flying around still. Most of them are retired or at the boneyard."
Sgt. Kretschmer said while the aircraft never had any combat damage or other major accidents, its age required crew chiefs to put a little more care into the Vietnam War-era Hercules.
"This one is just older," he said. "It's got its old age going for it, so we try to take a little more care of her so she can keep flying. We catch the little stuff here and there and fix it. There's always something. She has her little gremlins."
Col. Herbert Phillips, 386th Maintenance Group commander, credited the maintainers for giving 1847 the ability to rack up more than 440 flight hours over 340 sorties during this rotation.
"It's above standard mission capable rate over the course of this deployment is a tribute to the maintenance crews that ensure she is ready to meet all taskings," he said. "It is particularly amazing when you consider the age of the aircraft is older than the ages of the two crew chiefs added together."
Sgt. Kretschmer said the crew chiefs will spend the next few days removing mission essential equipment from 1847 and preparing to send the aircraft back to its home base at Ramstein AB, but it won't be going home alone.
"I'll be on its last flight home," he said. Sgt. Kretschmer is also preparing to leave the Rock. "I'll do my farewell on the way home."
Date Posted:01.29.2009 07:57
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