You call for fuel, we haul gas
By Senior Airman Hannah Landeros, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 02, 2014
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- Providing fuel for airframes at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, is the primary mission of the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron petroleum, oil and lubricants flight. The 379th ELRS POL flight not only provides the base with jet fuel but they also support bases in the area of responsibility with emergency aviation gasoline, or AVGAS when there is a shortage.
Petroleum, oil and lubricants operators assigned to the 379th ELRS provide the only fly away emergency AVGAS operations for the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility.
The POL flight is on standby 24/7/365 to ensure AVGAS, which is used to fuel unmanned aerial vehicles, can be shipped out from AUAB, Qatar, within 24 hours of notification to UAV bases in the area when they are low on fuel.
Part of the job includes conducting daily inspections on all equipment ensuring that the aerial bulk fueling delivery system, used when transporting AVGAS via airlift, is ready to provide fuel at a moment's notice.
"We must ensure there isn't any wear and tear on transfer hoses, connections, nozzles, valves and safety wires," said Senior Airman Adam Ranney a 379th ELRS POL fuels ramp specialist deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and a Whittier, Calif., native. "We must keep all of our equipment in tip top shape. If our equipment isn't ready to go 24/7 it could cripple the mission."
The 379th ELRS POL flight is equipped with four bulk fueling containers that each store up to 6,000 gallons of emergency AVGAS. Transferring fuel from the containers to a 3,000 gallon bladder takes nearly 20 minutes.
"Connecting all the transfer hoses from the fuel pump to the bulk fueling containers and a bladder is serious business," said Ranney. "If the hoses aren't properly attached AVGAS could spill causing a potential environmental impact and safety issue due to the products high volatility."
Once all attachments are properly made, fuel is pumped through a filter which removes any water or sediment that may have entered the pump while connecting the transfer hoses.
"Unmanned aerial vehicles have the potential to fly at higher altitudes, and any AVGAS that has not had contaminants removed could freeze and cause the aircraft to crash," said Ranney. "It's my job to keep the aircraft safe, by delivering clean and dry aviation fuel. We do not want to lose any assets."
Once AVGAS is ready for transportation it is loaded onto a C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster III or a C-5 Galaxy with a team of aerial bulk fueling delivery system Airmen and delivered to different bases throughout the AOR.
When the crew reaches their destination they begin to deliver the AVGAS. During this process, fuel is pumped from the bladders into the receiving base's storage system which takes nearly 45 minutes. After the AVGAS is distributed, the Airmen have completed their mission and fly back to AUAB.
"Spending time with my POL wingmen and knowing we completed our mission successfully is the best part of my job," said Ranney.
The 379th ELRS POL flight has six Airmen qualified as aerial bulk fueling delivery system flyers, who go out in teams of two.
"You call we haul, that's our motto," said Master Sgt. William Murphy, 379th ELRS POL fuels flight superintendent, a Meridian, Miss., native serving a one year tour. "It is a rewarding experience to see these Airmen working hard and doing their job to the best of their abilities."