Starting off right

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The aircraft maintainers of Kadena Air Base, Japan, work hard to fix and keep aircraft flying. With the busy operations tempo of the U.S. Air Force’s largest combat wing, it can be difficult to provide quality training to brand new Airmen while quickly readying an aircraft to fly again.

The 18th Maintenance Training Flight ensures Airmen start off on the right foot by teaching new maintainers their core tasks upon arrival to Kadena Air Base.

“Here at the MTF we provide a relaxed environment for the Airmen to learn their core tasks,” said Senior Master Sgt. Douglas Pinard, 18th Maintenance Group maintenance training superintendent.

According to Pinard, instructors not only ensure Airmen know how to perform their physical tasks but also the concept as to why they are performing it.

Classes taught at the MTF vary by aircraft. For example: maintainers specializing on the KC-135 Stratotanker are taught the airframe’s specific maintenance qualification training program.

“The intent behind this course is to take a brand new three level Airman and within six months of arriving on base and train them on all of their core tasks,” said Pinard.

The 18th MTF has also introduced a new course specifically tailored for electrical and environmental (ENE) maintainer’s core tasks.

“We’re taking brand new guys straight out of tech school and familiarizing them with the aircraft they’re going to work on and the parts that they’re going to have to change on a daily basis,” said Tech. Sgt. Dustin Allen, 18th MXG Air Force Repair and Enhancement Program technician.

There are two parts to most of the classes taught at the MTF; an in class session and a hands on session.

“First we go over it in class and then we take them out the trainer aircraft and actually have the students go through the steps while being supervised,” Allen said. “While at the aircraft trainer, instructors perform basic maintenance and then the students will replicate it.”

According to Allen, this training allows Airmen to get up to speed so their units will have less training to conduct on the line, allowing time for more and better quality maintenance.

“The goal for the ENE class right now is nine days,” Allen said. “After they graduate from this course, a new ENE maintainer should be able to conduct basic maintenance without someone having to stand over their shoulder all the time.”

The new course has a class size of up to four students so the instructor can personally ensure the competency of their students.
“Our instructors are very experienced,” Pinard said. “We have some who have more than a decade of experience on their perspective aircraft.”

The 18th MTF graduated a combined total of more than 2,500 maintainers from their courses and also took the Pacific Air Force best training flight and best training manager awards for 2016.

“The 18th MTF is important because training is the foundation of everything we do,” Pinard said. “In order for any squadron to successfully complete their mission, Airmen have to know what they are doing and that starts with training.”