Kentucky Air Guard continues Maintenance University to provide training opportunities for aircraft mechanics

By Master Sgt. Philip Speck, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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A Kentucky Air National Guard member works on a C-130 Hercules engine at the Air National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, Miss., on June 18, 2013, as part of a week-long course called Maintenance University. The course was created by the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Maintenance Group. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Col. Ken Dale)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Maintenance Group held its second-annual Maintenance University Course this summer, giving 130 Kentucky and Connecticut Air Guard members the opportunity to receive concentrated training on a broad range of aircraft maintenance tasks.

The weeklong course, created and managed by the Kentucky Air Guard but held at the Air National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, Miss., is the first of its kind, according to Col. Ken Dale, commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group.

He said the course was designed to provide Airmen with a block of time away from home station so they could concentrate on maintenance-specific training, eliminating distractions like ancillary training that are often consume a good portion of available time during monthly drill weekends.

“We had an E-6 and below meeting, and the number-one gripe was ‘I never get to work on aircraft’,” Dale said.

To address that issue, senior leaders deployed two C-130 Hercules aircraft and 80 part-time and full-time Airmen to Gulfport last year for a week of maintenance-specific training. The event went so well, they decided to do it again this year and call it “Maintenance University.”

Other Guard wings were invited to participate, and the Connecticut unit accepted. Several others expressed interest, Dale said, but Sequestration-driven budget cuts prevented their participation.

“Other folks have heard about the training, and now we have a waiting list of units that want to go next year,” he added.

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A Kentucky Air National Guard member works on a C-130 Hercules engine at the Air National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, Miss., on June 18, 2013, as part of a week-long course called Maintenance University. The course was created by the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Maintenance Group. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Col. Ken Dale)

In addition to C-130 aircraft, the 123rd took a spare engine to Gulfport this year so Airmen could train on unique tasks such as replacing a starter, something that normally isn’t accomplished very often. No aircraft were flown during the course so maintainers could conduct engine runs and other types of training they normally aren’t able to accomplish during busy drill weekends.

The National Guard Bureau was able to support the university by providing days and dollars for Airmen to attend, said Dale, who said next year’s course is already being planned.

“We want to grow it,” he said. “We’re hoping to continue it, and we have visions of growing it slow and steady.”

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