KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --
The 173rd Maintenance Group at Kingsley Field was named the Oregon Air National Guard Outstanding Unit of the Year Award for 2019.
The 173rd MXG is the largest group on base, consisting of nearly half the assigned Airmen at the base. Their job is to support and maintain the fleet of F-15 Eagles at the sole F-15C training schoolhouse in the United States Air Force. Receiving the ORANG Outstanding Unit of the Year Award recognizes many different aspects of the units’ performance.
“There are about five hours a day we’re not here”, said Lt. Col. Micah Lambert, the 173rd MXG commander, “It’s almost non-stop working on the aircraft while we launch and recover airplanes all day.”
“To take a moment and put these achievements on paper,” he continued, “helps them have pride in their work.”
Thanks to their efforts, the wing was able to fly more than 4,000 thousand hours last year with more than 3,500 sorties. This training time helped produce more than 60 F-15C pilots for the Air Force fleet across the globe. The pilots were able to participate in more than 88-percent more sorties than the average Air National Guard unit, said Lambert.
The strength of the aircraft maintenance was tested last year during a Class-A mishap with a student pilot.
“The student pilot shouldn’t have survived,” said Lambert, “but he did, in part due to the rigorous maintenance performed on the aircraft. We didn’t even know the aircraft could handle 12.5 G’s”
Lt. Col. Micah Lambert, 173rd MXG commander says part of the success of the maintainers comes from the amount of scheduled and unscheduled maintenance actions performed on the aircraft, more than 112,000 last year.
“These guys are very experienced and have been working on the aircraft a long time,” he said, “They have a history of knowledge for each aircraft.”
Every action is logged in a database so there is a complete history for every aircraft of every repair, fix or patch ever done to it. This helps provide an accurate look at the total condition of the jet over time.
MXG maintainers went above and beyond the regular maintenance protocols and re-rigged the canopies on fifteen aircraft to reduce the chances of a violent in-flight cabin depressurization, he said. While experienced pilots generally know how to handle this situation, the pilot trainees may not have the experience necessary yet to land the jet safely in those conditions.
These advanced safety measures and maintenance techniques are now a requirement for the 173rd MXG. With the closure of most of the F-15C maintenance depots, many of the more advanced or technical repairs must be done here.
“It’s amazing how well our team has done in bringing depot level maintenance to the field,” said Lambert, “I’ve never been part of a maintenance group with zero audit write-ups.”
“We had an outside inspector come in and received no write ups on process and procedures and safety,” he continued “that was really a validation of the good work of all the different shops.”
Between supporting the F-15 school house, deploying in support of missions around the world, and being an active part of the local community in Klamath Falls, the 173rd MXG continues to be an integral and essential part of Team Kingsley.
“It is a special place with special people,” said Lambert “they’re doing amazing work and it’s awesome that they got recognized for it this year. It’s amazing to see what they’re doing with these airplanes, 40-year-olds and still flying thanks to the work they put in to it.”