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NEWS | March 2, 2012

Working under pressure

By Staff Sgt. Katie Gieratz Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

The 437th Airlift Wing's C-17 Globemaster III's are a vital asset to humanitarian, airdrop and contingency operations and without the ongoing dedication of the hydraulics shop, there would be no mission.

Hydraulics Airmen begin their career at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. Their initial 10-week training teaches Airmen their primary Air Force Specialty Code responsibilities. Once they have completed their technical training they have the basic hydraulics skills required to work on any military contracted aircraft.

Each type of aircraft in the Air Force arsenal requires further specialty training and depending upon the aircraft will depend on how, when and where the individual will receive their training. For example, members who work on C-17 Globemaster III aircraft will attend C-17 transition school for advanced training. Those who work on fighter aircraft typically receive on the job training at their respective squadrons.

The 437th Maintenance Squadron hydraulics shop at Joint Base Charleston is a single shift shop of active duty, reservists and civilians working to ensure any aircraft system powered by hydraulics is properly maintained. Some of these systems include brakes, landing gear, steering, struts for suspension and cargo wenches for moving cargo on the aircraft.

"The hydraulics shop is one of the many integral parts of maintenance for the C-17," said Tech. Sgt. Dedrick Hyche, 437th MXG aircraft hydraulics systems section assistant shop chief. "Each section in maintenance plays a part in getting the aircraft off of the ground."

The hydraulics shop ensures all parts under their scope are working properly, fluids are being replaced when necessary and hoses are fixed when worn, frayed or damaged. The hydraulics shop also performs checks to ensure the aircraft's landing gear is maintained, the brakes operate properly and pressure systems continues to pump out 4,000 pounds per square inch.

Once the hydraulics troops accomplish all necessary aircraft hydraulics maintenance they return to the hydraulics back shop and begin overhauling necessary parts. The hydraulics back shop overhauls accumulators (surge protectors and actuators) which initiate movement of surfaces. They also overhaul main landing gear brakes.

"I like that there is nothing redundant about my job," said Staff Sgt. Justin Diggins, 437th MXG aircraft hydraulics systems journeyman. "We have the opportunity to work in different areas, whether in the hydraulics back shop building up parts or on the aircraft, making sure everything in our realm of responsibility is working properly."

Every section of maintenance is important to the capability, safety and efficiency of the C-17 and the hydraulics shop is mission essential to Team Charleston's success.