Posts tagged ‘maintenance’

Sayonara Okinawa

…And so after 6 short months I bid adieu to the island of Okinawa…

_MG_6013

Farewell Futenma flightline,

_MG_5230

Bye bye beautiful beaches, and the snorkeling that went with them,

_MG_5098

So long seaside sunsets, with your rich dusk colors,

_MG_5011

Goodbye drink vending machines that I could find on every street corner,

_MG_5001

Au revoir Orion beer, which is only found on Okinawa,

IMG_5375

Adios vodka tonics from Panic Bar (and the associated hangovers the next morning),

_MG_6045

Have a nice life Habu Trail, for the countless miles I trampled over you have finished,

_MG_6028

Until we meet again, endless open Ocean.

Parting Shots

As we prepare to depart Okinawa to return home, these final glimpses appeared before my camera lens.

_MG_6079

A (mostly Flightline) Thanksgiving dinner in one of the barracks

_MG_6021

_MG_6006

_MG_6060

_MG_6075

_MG_5909

_MG_5954

_MG_6026

Inside the Refurbished Hangar and Shop Photo

We have a hangar, technically, but we aren’t allowed to move into it or perform maintenance in it. The only purpose of the hangar so far has been to shelter the CH-53’s and Cobras inside when the base is at risk from a typhoon. When we stuffed the hangar with all our planes recently, I slowly walked through the quiet open space, taking pictures.

_MG_5844

_MG_5845

_MG_5848

_MG_5854

Traditionally, there usually is a squadron and/or shop photo associated with a deployment. Instead of making a mundane shop photo wearing our cammies after the squadron picture, we did ours several days later dressed in our usual working wear of oil-stained coveralls and flight suits. A driving idea behind these shop photos is the aircraft we used had no rotor blades yet, sort of a summary of the difficult battle we’ve had with the helicopters the entire deployment.
Also one trend I’ve noticed over the years is to take one serious-looking picture as well as one with any manner of ridiculous poses. We did both styles for the two different setups.

_MG_5899

Normal

_MG_5900

Goofing off

_MG_5904

Normal….

_MG_5905

…..and Goofing off

Work Spaces

Instead of working in a traditional hangar, our lack thereof forced us to keep our tools and computers in interlinked white containers called vans. There is something about the sterile quality, and the muted, cool-tone walls that reminded me of a ship. I took several photos of the area over the past several months. The truth is, though, we are hardly ever in them except for a few minutes in the morning, and the last few minutes of the workday before we leave in the evening.

_MG_5548

SNCO Van. The Gunny at work

_MG_5837

Intersection

_MG_5835

Medlicott

_MG_5839

_MG_5838

Flightline shop Van

_MG_5829

Barnes posing

_MG_5832

Stanley in the corner

_MG_5834

Work Randomness #5

_MG_5616

Turning the camera diagonally was the only way to fit the C-130’s wingspan into the picture

_MG_5620

Passengers out the side; cargo out with a forklift

_MG_5623

I’ll be damned, one of the few photos of me

_MG_5624

What bored Marines do when we couldn’t find our computer… make one out of a wooden box

_MG_5628

Wolf and Clinger replacing a tail disconnect component

_MG_5629

Tail Pylon detail

_MG_5638

Rain on the horizon

Fuel Cells and Sunsets

_MG_5551

Venting out the fuel vapor fumes

_MG_5552

Fuel Cell maintenance

_MG_5554

Wolf, draining out the last drops

_MG_5558

Futenma flightline sunset

_MG_5568

Super Stallion framed by light

_MG_5571

Same as above, but achieved a silhouette effect

Work Randomness #4

_MG_5115

Two Cobras and a Super Stallion

_MG_5116

Thanks Gunny. Not everybody loves the camera

_MG_5415

I felt like a wildlife photographer taking this picture through the bushes, of a helicopter in the ‘wild’

_MG_5417

Portrait of Russell showing off his close-cropped moustache

_MG_5422

The AMO showing up for the morning maintenance meeting

_MG_5423

FOD walk, while the sun was still low in the sky

_MG_5428

After a rain shower

_MG_5441

I liked the conflicting angles of this view toward the tail

_MG_5439

Rotorheads appearing through the wavy heat rising up from the curve in the flightline

First Flight

Long delayed (it has been 2 months, not going to get into details) our squadrons first CH-53E flight occurred. I could only help out testing the planes from the ground so this was my first taste of soaring past the island from above. Only a couple photographs were taken since I was preoccupied with getting ‘back in the saddle’ as far as flying was concerned. These were taken not over Okinawa itself, but near one of the small outlying islands.

_MG_5037

_MG_5039

_MG_5042

Work Randomness #3

_MG_4868

Flightline shop on the move

_MG_4923

The “color bird” of HMM-262, the Flying Tigers

_MG_4894

Futenma tower

_MG_4901

Sgt Armstrong, H-1 Mechanic

_MG_4919

Cobra maintenance

_MG_4906

Tail and Rotor Head

_MG_4910

Avionicsman working under Cobra

_MG_4929

A “Phrog” and a “Shitter”

_MG_4930

This was supposed to work out much better… I was trying to ‘hold’ the CH-53 in my hands like a platter

_MG_4932

Stanley supporting a CH-46 by his index finger

Turnin’ for the First Time

Well, after a long and arduous process of rebuilding the aircraft after being transported halfway around the world our unit finally had two helicopters turn-up for check flights on the same day. The anticipation of all the maintenance personnel was palpable, especially after weeks of busting our knuckles fixing CH-53’s that had not flown or moved since we arrived.

_MG_4788

_MG_4775

Troubleshooting an engine

_MG_4791

Watching from the shade

_MG_4813

Crew Chief, SSgt Jones, ready to turn-up

_MG_4787

_MG_4878

_MG_4881

_MG_4884

Everybody’s Workin’ for the Weekend

I always think of that dumb song when I have to work a weekend. Thanks to Cody Mitchell for that, he would always play the song on the shop radio back in HMH-363’s Flightline shop in Hawaii when there was even the remote chance we might have to work that weekend. Play time was over here, though. We had our fun and our helicopters still needed a lot of work before we could start flying, including some nonsense like pedal popping and full rigs. Honestly, I expected to work a majority of the weekends so having to only do 3 or 4 so far is not bad.

_MG_4759

Full Rig

_MG_4752

One of several uncomfortable positions mechanics assume during Full Rigs

_MG_4611

The Sergeant Major on the prowl

_MG_4442

Pushing a several-hundred-pound rollaway toolbox

_MG_4498

The start of a job

_MG_4609

Discussing Staff NCO things

Work Randomness #2

_MG_4379

SSgt. Hensley, Airframes, showing his enthusiasm for the camera

_MG_4414

I think a CH-53E is an authorized vehicle…

_MG_4425

Morning maintenance meeting

_MG_4432

FOD walk

_MG_4490

The giant Cicada that tried to eat Chad Jones

_MG_4493

The ubiquitous Japanese coffee and drink vending machines. There is never one more than 50 feet away.

Oh yeah… we have Cobras too…

As a mixed squadron/composite squadron, whatever you want to call it, we are half CH-53’s and half AH-1 Cobras. My picture taking during work has predominantly been spent on the Super Stallions, so I decided I should show some of our ‘little brothers’ too.

_MG_4449

_MG_4457

_MG_4483

Work randomness

_MG_4373

SSgt Garcia, Airframes

_MG_4376

Progress to be made

_MG_4387

Birds’ eye view

_MG_4382

This green container and concrete barrier is essentially the Flightline shop

_MG_4419

Flightline about to leave work

One build-up at a time

The first week of hectic maintenance brought with it a good introduction to fixing planes in the humid conditions coupled with the lack of logistical support. I felt as if we were better equipped in the remote wasteland of Afghanistan than we are in Okinawa, at an air station that has had helicopters for decades. The simple explanation is — the base was not ready for us: no hangar, scavenging support equipment, and almost everyone spending the entire day outside. I would be tempted to say I’d choose Afghanistan any day over this, as far as working conditions went.

We went ahead anyway and charged headfirst into rebuilding the first helicopter after it stood ‘broken down’ after C-5 transport.

_MG_4191
Note the rolled up sleeves, everybody is trying to get their tan on

_MG_4194
Disorganized disarray of a mess

_MG_4214
Our neighbors on the flight line to the north; CH-46’s (HMM-262 “Flying Tigers”) and C-130’s (VMGR-152 “Sumos”)

_MG_4206

_MG_4195