Capt. Christopher Smith, 36th Maintenance Squadron operations officer, utilizes scaled transparencies of a hangar and aircraft models in order to demonstrate how the aircraft can be situated in hangars at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 9, 2012. Whenever a decision is made that an evacuation is not necessary, but there are impending high winds, the units are required to place as many aircraft in the hangars as possible to protect them from strong winds and flying debris. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos/Released)
An Airman from the 36th Maintenance Squadron rests after helping store an F-22 Raptor, F-16 Aggressor and B-52 Stratofortress into a hangar during inclement weather at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 5, 2012. The aircraft were being stored as part of an Andersen Air Force Base weather contingency plan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)
An F-22 Raptor, F-16 Aggressor and B-52 Stratofortress sit in a hangar during inclement weather at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 5, 2012. The aircraft were being stored as part of a Andersen Air Force Base weather contingency plan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)
by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs
10/23/2012 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- With the potential of winds hitting near 50 knots over the weekend, the decision was made to secure all fighter-sized aircraft in hardened structures on the flightline here, Oct. 5.
"The winds got close to our magic number of 50 knots, which is the wind speed where we are required to secure most of our fighter aircraft in hangars on Andersen," said Capt. Christopher Smith, 36th Maintenance Squadron operations officer. "Weather can change, and if it did change for the worst during the weekend, we were prepared and had everything squared away."
In the event that winds are predicted to reach typhoon strength, which is 64 knots sustained, the 36th MXS drafts plans for several possible courses of action.
"If there is a possibility that the wing commander will make the decision to evacuate the aircraft, we first start by prioritizing the flyable aircraft," said Captain Smith. "After we establish how to go about the evacuation, we then build a plan to protect the aircraft not capable of evacuation."
To ensure the mission can continue, the wing also disperses the rest of its mission critical equipment in the hangar, such as aerospace ground equipment, crash recovery cranes, spare engines, and even ambulances.
"For typhoons, we have plans to disperse and place mission critical equipment around the aircraft so that if something happens to one of the hangars, we still have redundant capability," said Captain Smith.
On the other hand, if the decision is made that an evacuation is not necessary but there are impending high winds, as it was the weekend of Oct. 5, the units are required to place as many of the smaller aircraft in the hangars as possible to protect them from winds and flying debris.
Andersen units make sure that everyone is assisted and that all aircraft are accounted for. From aircraft units that are deployed to Andersen, to transient aircraft transporting cargo or parking for the night, different base units and agencies provide accommodation, manpower and equipment as needed.
With an abundance of transient aircraft that fly without maintenance units, passing through the Andersen's flightline on a daily basis, the 36th MXS transient alert's main task is to assist crews and move aircraft that are here for a short period of time.
"If the aircraft is just passing through and is down for maintenance, we move the aircraft and make sure it gets where it is supposed to be," said Glen Walker, 36th MXS transient alert manager.
Along with Transient Alert, the deployed-in F-22 Raptor crew chiefs were busy with moving all the F-22s in the hangars on the Oct. 5 hangar movement. The crew chiefs were making sure that the aircraft were protected in the event of strong winds hitting the island.
"We were instructed to hangar the aircraft because strong winds were expected that weekend," said Staff Sgt. James Fleming, 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-22 crew chief. "It was not a difficult task to accomplish since we planned on how to move and situate the aircraft in the hangars beforehand. With help from the members of the Global Hawk detachment, who repositioned their aircraft to make room for ours, we were able to execute seamlessly."
The 36th Wing has hosted large-scale exercises and has provided shelter to many aircraft that have come to or through Andersen. Through the aircraft movement on Oct. 5, Andersen tested its capability in securing aircraft during detrimental weather, ultimately providing the wing a better idea of how many aircraft they can support and how long it will take to safely secure all aircraft in a hardened shelter.
"We have proven that we can accomplish monumental tasks in the short time allotted and that we are capable of securing much more of our assets than we thought possible," said Captain Smith. "From the Global Hawk detachment, deployed aircraft maintenance units and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron TWO FIVE preparing and providing hangar space to our own 36th Wing units, such as the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron helping with our hangar doors, the success of this aircraft movement and the success of those in the future are products of a base-wide effort."