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167th's new planes need maintenance crews

April 28, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.-There is nothing jiffy about lubing a C-5A Galaxy aircraft on the West Virginia Air National Guard 167th Airlift Wing base.

"Instead of 30 minutes (for your car), it might be 60 days," said Master Sgt. Daniel Jenkins, who is supervising the ongoing recruitment of 100 or more full-time positions, mostly needed for maintaining the gigantic aircraft at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport.

At a press conference on Friday, Jenkins said another 200 part-time positions also need to be filled by next year to meet the demands of the planes, which replaced the C-130 model late last year.

"You definitely have to be part of the military to have one of these jobs," Jenkins said.

Information distributed to several media organizations on hand detailed enlistment benefits, including a possible enlistment bonus of $7,500, up to 100 percent state tuition assistance and a minimum of $1,273 per month to attend basic military training and technical training schools.

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Along with maintenance of the 11 planes that eventually will be based at the unit, the additional personnel will be performing necessary inspections for all of the Air National Guard's C-5s, with two or three arriving each month, officials said.

When asked about his experience, Chief Master Sgt. Barton Kough said he wouldn't change anything.

"I'm 58 years old, and I'm still excited to come to work," said Kough, noting the unit's recognized maintenance record. The unit received an excellent overall rating in 2004 for its operational readiness inspection.

As efforts are ramped up to bolster the unit's personnel levels, Col. Pat Burkhart, the lead base engineer, said the cost to accommodate the larger planes continues to increase, primarily because of increases in fuel costs and elevated international demand for concrete and steel.

Initially estimated to cost about $150 million, Burkhart said about $250 million had been spent on construction alone as of Friday.

Beginning with environmental studies in 1998, the base improvement projects include relocation of the control tower, maintenance hangar and shops; fuel storage, runway and taxiway upgrades; a corrosion control hangar; a fire station; and a flight simulator. Several more projects are scheduled through 2010.

Burkhart credited U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., with helping overcome the shortfalls, which have averaged about 20 percent on the various projects

"Through Sen. Byrd's leadership, he has made sure we have got what we needed," Burkhart said.

·For information on joining the 167th Airlift Wing, call Master Sgt. Daniel Jenkins at 304-616-5386 or 1-800-253-5674 or send an e-mail to Daniel.jenkins@wvmart.ang.af.mil

·More information on the unit may be found at www.wvmart.ang.af.mil.

C-5A facts

·The C-5A is one of the largest aircraft in the world. It can carry outsize and oversize cargo, and ground crews can load or offload the C-5A simultaneously at the front and rear cargo openings.

Other facts about the C-5A include:

·Length - 247.1 feet

·Wingspan - 222.9 feet

·Height - 65.1 feet

·Maximum cargo - 270,000 pounds

·Speed - 518 mph

·Range - 6,320 nautical miles (empty)

·Unit cost - $152.8 million (figure in fiscal 1998 constant dollars)

Source: U.S. Air Force Web site (www.af.mil)

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