An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

"Hangar Queen" Turned Hero

  • Published
  • By Staff Sergeant Danielle McBride
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing

In an extraordinary display of determination and ingenuity, the Airmen of the 41st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit successfully turned a “Hangar Queen” into their saving grace.

The C-130J Super Hercules in question, a workhorse of the 41st Mission Generation Force Element, experienced a nose landing gear strut leak, which triggered a waterfall of issues. As a result, aircraft A5791 was down for a total of 58 days, classifying it as a category 1 “Hangar Queen,” a term used to describe an aircraft grounded for an extended period of time. During that time, maintenance personnel performed a staggering 677 repair actions. Among these, 19 critical components were cannibalized from A5791, enabling the maintenance of other aircraft and ensuring the continued success of their missions.

The aircraft using A5791’s parts executed 465 sorties with zero maintenance cancellations. This remarkable achievement is virtually unheard of within other installations, much less in a deployed environment. It highlights the exceptional skill sets of our Airmen, who consistently push the boundaries of excellence in their career fields.

“Those 19 total items we cannibalized from A5791 helped all of our other aircraft accumulate over 900 flight hours in one month, which is huge,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Jorgensen, 41st EAMU Production Superintendent. “To achieve 900 flight hours in 30 days shows the extreme effort that everybody puts towards maintaining all these aircraft.”

The cannibalization process, while necessary, was not without its challenges. Maintenance personnel had to wait for each replacement part to arrive, which delayed the repairs of A5791 and required them to prioritize other aircraft in need of parts from the “Hangar Queen.”

Despite the significant challenges posed by weather and hangar conditions, the maintenance personnel were able to change two flight control surfaces, which consisted of an elevator, and an inboard flap. They also replaced an engine and propeller on the aircraft. These repairs, which are typically performed by specialized aero repair shops, showcased the exceptional proficiency and adaptability of our maintenance personnel in a deployed environment.

“A lot of the major components we were changing were things that we never dealt with at home,” explained Staff Sgt. Hunter Golembiewski, a 41st EAMU crew chief. “Here we have minimal manning for this job, so it took a lot of crew chiefs and a lot of other shops to be able to come out and really get it all together. So we were able to get a lot of training on things that we never get to do.”

The maintenance personnel, including 6 maintainers and a team of 15, worked tirelessly with the 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron to restore A5791, demonstrating exceptional teamwork and dedication. Their efforts not only ensured the success of their missions, but also provided valuable training opportunities for the newer Airmen and first-time deployers.

“A lot of these younger Airmen are having a direct real world impact being out here,” said Staff Sgt. Braden Sharp, a 41st EAMU repair and reclamation specialist. “It holds a lot of weight, knowing that their maintenance actions are actually causing a difference in something huge.”

“Having to do this in a deployed location means a lot,” added Jorgensen. “It was never just one or two people out here working, it was a full team and everyone putting their heads together to make the mission possible. We are one big family.”

The successful execution of 465 sorties with zero maintenance cancellations is a testament to the skills of our Airmen from the 41st EAMU. This feat highlights the crucial role that maintenance personnel serve in the U.S. Air Force.

“Facing tough challenges head-on, our Airmen demonstrated remarkable expertise and determination to return A5791 to flight readiness,” said Lt. Col. Willie Lloyd, commander of the 41st MGFE. “Their collective effort not only underscores their skill, but also their dedication to our mission’s success. I am incredibly proud to lead such an outstanding group of professionals.”

The story of the 41st MGFE and their “Hangar Queen” turned hero is a powerful reminder of the importance of teamwork in the face of adversity. These maintainers are the reason our mission is truly a no-fail one, and A5791 allowed them to keep it that way.