NY Air Guard members craft customized shipping boxes for 25-foot long skis

New York National Guard
Story by Staff Sgt. Jamie Spaulding

Date: 01.08.2020
Posted: 01.08.2020 13:11
News ID: 358432
109th Airlift Wing Airmen make custom crates for 25 foot long skis

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Scotia, N.Y. -- A good set of skis are expensive. So it’s always a good idea to protect them when they’re being shipped.

It’s an even better idea to protect them when the skis being shipped are 25 feet long, weigh 3,000 pounds, and are used to land 75,800 pound LC-130 airplanes on ice and snow.

But the shipping containers that the 109th Airlift Wing use to move the massive skis were falling apart and no longer serviceable.

That’s when members of the wing’s 109th Logistic Readiness Squadron got involved to design and build a new solution for shipping the massive skis that the LC-130s land on.

The 109th’s LC-130 cargo planes are the only heavy airlift aircraft in the world with the ability to take off from, and land on ice and snow.

The skis the planes land on are put through their paces in the course of the wing’s missions to Greenland and Antarctica each year. This means, like any other part on an airplane, the skis often need maintenance and in some cases need to be transported to proper facilities with the capability to accomplish repairs.

That means really big boxes that must be custom made to fit these really big skis. The kind you can’t get at your local shipping store.

“The solution was around two years in the making,” said Major James Vendetti, the Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) commander.

“Essentially, the way by which we previously transported the skis just wasn’t an option anymore because the shipping containers we inherited had deteriorated to the point that they were unserviceable,” Vendetti said.

To solve this problem, Airmen identified the need for new and updated shipping containers and went to work designing and planning the fabrication of the new crates.

“The team was assembled with people of LRS who simply had the skills and the desire to assist,” said Chief Master Sergeant Michael Pingitore, the Materiel Management Flight Chief.

“It was truly a team effort by the 109th; involving several organizations on this base as well as leadership backing and support to find the funding for the project,” he said.

The crates themselves were constructed using wood based on the specifications for the original crates. During the process it was discovered that several improvements could be made to the design to tailor the newer versions to the needs of the unit.

The Airmen incorporated a better mechanism for opening and closing the crates. They also built in rubber cushioning that would prevent the skis from moving in transit. Finally, they included dunnage—wood pieces --which keeps the main container off of the ground when stored.

“The key part was just to simply bring the right people with the right skills into the mission,” said Technical Sergeant Andrew Smith, a vehicle operator with the squadron.

“A need was identified and we in the squadron simply had the means and desire to contribute to the solution and make sure the project as well as the mission got done. There wasn’t much more to it than that,” Smith said.

The team took six to eight weeks to fabricate the five crates. They made three large crates for the main landing skis and two smaller ones for the skis at the aircraft’s nose.

“This project will also assist in further development of the supply chain for the skis and big Air Force will now be able to move them in the transportation system safely and efficiently,” Pingitore explained.

The unique mission for polar flying means the Airmen frequently face challenges that other wings don’t deal with. That means they have to come up with solutions that only 109th Airlift Wing members have the background to figure out, the logistics squadron members said.

“This is just what we at the 109th have been conditioned to do,” Vendetti said.

“Given the mission we have and the fact that we are the only unit in the world with the capabilities and the equipment, solutions like this have to come from within the unit itself,” he added.

“Since we began flying to the Arctic and Antarctic, it’s been tradition for us to solve our own problems simply because no one else in the Guard or the Air Force knows how we do what we do or what we need to do it,” Vendetti said.

“We’ve just always made our own way to get the mission done,” he added.