Behind the scenes: PROPS flight
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- This is the fourth in a five-story series focusing on sections within the 374th Maintenance Squadron and how they keep the C-130 Hercules flying.
On an average day, buzzing can be heard throughout Yokota Air Base, Japan and the surrounding community. Don't worry, it's not a massive bee infestation, rather, the sound of the C-130 Hercules as it takes off to complete a mission. However, unlike bees only needing their wings to fly, C-130s also need propellers and the Airmen to keep them rotating.
The 374th Maintenance Squadron propulsion flight provides engines and propellers to the C-130 to make sure the aircraft can fly to perform airlift and humanitarian missions throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific Region. The flight also provides engine and propeller support for Kadena Air Base, Japan, and other active duty, guard and reserve C-130s that are tasked within the area of responsibility.
"Our job is extremely important because we are here to fix anything that goes wrong with an engine that cannot be repaired on the flightline," said Senior Airman Colton Windsor, 374 MXS aerospace propulsion flight journeyman. "We provide the necessary maintenance to guarantee the engines and propellers are ready to go."
To ensure the engines and propellers are effectively maintained, the propulsion flight is separated into four sections; props, quick engine change, jet engine intermediate maintenance, and test cell. Four sections allow the flight to separate the engine maintenance into manageable pieces and provide the engines to the aircraft in a timely manner.
The props section creates propellers and performs routine maintenance work by fixing any leaks and replacing seals on the propellers.
The quick engine change section inspects, replaces and cleans all of the engine parts such as the wiring, harnesses and structural maintenance.
The jet engine intermediate maintenance section performs routine maintenance work on the engines and rebuilds engines when necessary.
The final section, the test cell, is where the engines and propellers go through a final inspection to ensure they run efficiently and are free of any leaks. Before the engine is approved to be used on an aircraft, it is required to successfully run at a minimum of 98 percent power.
Even though their primary focus is to provide spare engines to the aircraft, the props flight also augments the 374 MXS isochronal flight with personnel to help with the inspection process of the aircraft before sending it back to the flightline.
"Our Airmen don't obtain the same experience as regularly as personnel in the ISO flight do," said Master Sgt. Allan Rice, 374 MXS propulsion flight assistant flight chief. "This allows for a rotation of engine personnel to receive hands-on training with the aircraft and helps them become a well-rounded engine troop."
Airmen within the flight work year-round to maintain the engines and propellers to ensure the aircraft from Yokota, Kadena, and other units can complete their missions.
"Our flight performs the necessary maintenance on these parts to ensure they are ready to go when they are needed," Rice said.
The propulsion flight plays a critical role in keeping Yokota and Kadena aircraft and Airmen safe in the air and on the ground by providing essential maintenance to the engines and propellers.