Construction on largest building on base begins
By Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson, 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 21, 2014
KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- At the 173rd Fighter Wing two things mark the beginning of each day, the sun comes up and a parade of contractors begin making their way to any number of projects across the base.
At the moment the operations group is expanding their vault, the flight simulator is enlarging their building, workers are expanding the arm and dearm areas for the south runway, phase maintenance buildings 400 and 404 are under construction, and now the largest building on base-hangar 219- is getting a needed renovation as well.
"This is most definitely a balancing act," said 2nd Lt. Oscar Ayala, the deputy base civil engineer. "With the additional aircraft already on-base and new active duty personnel arriving soon, we have to be creative in ensuring that our facilities can accommodate the expansion--as it is happening."
Consequently, while the hangar is under repair the tarmac is a parking lot, every available space either has an aircraft on it, or is waiting for its return from a sortie. That is because the 173rd Fighter Wing is training more pilots at a faster rate than ever before, and with more aircraft than ever before.
"The loss of parking areas for aircraft is a challenging choke point," said 1st Lt. Richard Schuster, the maintenance operations flight commander. "We currently have no hangar access, and with the added iron, we are now using almost every parking spot possible on the ramp. This forces many repairs to be accomplished on the ramp that would normally occur indoors."
Schuster anticipates further complications by impending winter weather which forces maintainers to de-ice aircraft while attempting not to slow jet launches.
Though these complications could hamper the wing's ultimate mission, producing trained F-15C pilots, Lt. Col. Jeff Edwards, 114th Fighter Squadron Commander, says these measures are working and that the flying training schedule is unaffected. He credits the close coordination with civil engineering, maintenance, and operations.
But these are encouraging problems, says Schuster.
"The awesome part of this is we are growing when the entire DoD is trying to shrink; growing pains come when you get bigger and stronger. We're gaining efficiency and the Air Force top brass have identified the extra capability as a key to America's continued air superiority," he added.
Meanwhile contractors tend to their projects, maintenance personnel have moved all of their gear, office furniture, supplies, and anything else not physically attached to the building, to new spaces scattered around Kingsley Field.
Many anticipate a better facility when the project reaches its scheduled completion next summer.
"The renovated HVAC should provide more energy-efficiency," said Master Sgt. Mike Shirar of maintenance training. "This, combined with some new carpet and paint, will breathe some renewed energy into the heavily-used facility which has not gone through any major renovation in nearly two decades."
As these projects draw to a close, civil engineers are planning more large scale projects ranging from the construction of a new fire station to constructing a new fuel loading and offloading station located adjacent to the south gate. The old alert facility now converted to phase maintenance will undergo further construction and all base waterlines will receive an upgrade as well.
So as Kingsley Airmen arrive at the base each day, they will join hard hatted construction crews, trucks of building supplies and equipment at the front gate, for at least the next several years.