An A-7 Corsair II aircraft streaks across the cloudy
landscape. The pilot transmits a distress call to the tower to relay that
his aircraft is heavily damaged. He manages a hard landing but his aircraft
has lost all system power and veered off the taxiway into heavy mud. A
scenario similar to this is what activates the 153rd Maintenance Group
Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team.
Flying units, like the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard, are
required by the Air Force to maintain CDDAR capability. This is broken down
into two phases - initial response and recovery.
The maintenance group CDDAR team is responsible for the latter - recovery -
which includes coordinating efforts to move the damaged or disabled
aircraft to a parking or storage area.
The specialized team of maintainers is comprised of: fuel systems,
avionics, hydraulic, structural, propulsion and electro-environmental
specialists; aerospace ground equipment mechanics; and aircraft crew
chiefs. Every year, the CDDAR team practices responding to damaged or
disabled aircraft that have blown tires upon landing, veered off the
runway, or crashed.
“As a team, we really enjoy coming out here,” said Tech. Sgt. Stephen
Palso, 153rd CDDAR chief. “We have some new equipment and some additional
equipment coming, so this year, we set up a scenario which we haven’t been
able to do in the past - a scenario that will let us use the new
Palso gathered the full CCDAR team for the exercise and briefed them of the
situation. In order for the aircraft to be towed, the maintainers had to
stabilize the aircraft with a tether and make sure the structure and gears
would allow air bag jacking. Several air bags were used for stability and
to jack the front landing gear. Air manifolds were set up for the front and
rear of the aircraft and connected to individual air bags. After jacking
the aircraft, team members installed steel planking to support the forward
gears and towed the aircraft out of the mud.
“This was the first time for me doing recovery training. My job was to
help set up air bags and operate the manifold,” said Senior Airman Dakota
Difrancesco, 153rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. “My normal
job always has some sort of data and you are going to follow the book. When
a plane crashes or runs of the runway into mud, you don’t always respond
in the same way.”
“The whole concept of CDDAR is based on teamwork,” said Maj. Carl
Johansen, 153rd Maintenance Squadron commander. “I am proud of the team
for their many months of planning and hard work. It took sourcing necessary
equipment, completing formal CDDAR training, establishing a [memorandum of
understanding] with other units within the region, and coordinating with
multiple entities to execute an aircraft recovery scenario like this."
All members of the CDDAR team are volunteers who have taken on the program
responsibilities and challenges beyond their normal maintenance duties and
responsibilities. They hone their specialized skills daily so they can
respond to an emergency like the one presented in the scenario.
Top: U.S. Air Force Airmen with the 153rd Maintenance Group's Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team conduct a safety briefing prior to jacking an A-7 Corsair II aircraft, May 11, 2017 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Maintainers from all aircraft specialties practiced moving a fighter aircraft from the mud into a parking spot as part of an annual CDDAR requirement. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Charles Delano/released)
Bottom: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Dakota Difrancesco with the 153rd Maintenance
Group's Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team monitors a manifold
during the jacking of an A-7 Corsair II aircraft, May 11, 2017 in Cheyenne,
Wyoming. Maintainers from all aircraft specialties practiced moving a
fighter aircraft from the mud into a parking spot as part of an annual
CDDAR requirement. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt.