Two Forces, one mission: Aircraft sustainment
By Tech. Sgt. Erica Rowe, 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 04, 2015
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador -- New Hampshire Air National Guard Airmen assigned to the 157th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron recently participated in a State Partnership Program event here exchanging aircraft corrosion best practices alongside their Salvadorian Air Force counterparts.
The aircraft corrosion teams spent four days discussing ways to sustain aircraft and ground equipment in their respective Air Force fleet.
"We were given the opportunity to come here and teach a basic corrosion control lesson," said Tech. Sgt. Glen Patterson, 157 AMS aircraft structural maintenance technician. "Not knowing the host nation's capabilities, we developed a small presentation about corrosion and identifying corrosion."
Salvadorian Sgt. Aviation Technical (TA) Franqui Moises Orellana Zelaya, an aircraft maintenance technician himself, felt the presentations were very beneficial because of "gaps in knowledge that exist in the Salvadorian Air Force."
He added that he now feels those have been remedied through the 157 AMS presentations.
In addition to classroom sessions, the three person team from New Hampshire also had the opportunity to tour the host nation corrosion control shop.
"Everyone went to our shop and had a discussion about what things we had in common, and what things were done differently," said Zelaya. "This was the most beneficial because the U.S. Air Force has a lot more experience in aviation than we might, so they were able to pick up on those things which will allow us to better maintain the air fleet of the Salvadorian Air Force."
Staff Sgt. Andrew Morrison, 157 AMS aircraft structural maintenance craftsman, said at first, their Salvadorian counterparts were reluctant to ask questions during the tour.
"Getting them to open up was a little challenging at first but once they did, it was question after question," he said. "I know our interpreter was definitely worn out!"
Through this discussion, the Salvadorian Airmen recalled an aircraft that had crash landed in the ocean.
"Two years ago they had an aircraft crash land in the water," said Patterson. "Half was in the water and half was sticking out; and they wanted to salvage this aircraft."
While 157 AMS team was unable to see the aircraft in person, the host nation Air Force showed photos of the damage.
"They showed us a series of photos of the aircraft, and we were able to tell them how we would fix it," said Morrison.
When the exchange of best practices concluded, the two nations realized they had more in common than originally thought despite the language barrier.
"I want to thank the U.S. Air Force for providing this training," Zelaya gratefully said. "The United States and El Salvador are exposed to corrosion, it's something that can happen, and so being able to prevent it and control it helps to prevent a catastrophe in the future."
Catastrophes that both nations hope exchanges like these prevent in the future.