Senior Airman Jacqueline N. Limon, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance journeyman, waits for the signal for a C-130J Super Hercules to depart during a black-letter flight at Yokota Air Base, Japan, June 11, 2019. A black-letter flight is a rare accomplishment that few maintenance and air crew members see in their careers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brieana E. Bolfing)
Senior Airman Jacqueline N. Limon, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance journeyman, waits for the signal for a C-130J Super Hercules to depart during a black-letter flight at Yokota Air Base, Japan, June 11, 2019. A black-letter flight is a rare accomplishment that few maintenance and air crew members see in their careers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brieana E. Bolfing)

374th AMXS Airmen accomplish maintenance feat

by Airman 1st Class Brieana Bolfing
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Yokota Air Base, Japan -- Members of the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron accomplished a rare maintenance achievement, June 7, 2019, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

The C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 374th AMXS, received a black-letter status after receiving zero discrepancies.

This is a feat that is rarely accomplished and many crew chiefs go their entire career without achieving this milestone.

“To anyone’s knowledge in the squadron, this hasn’t happened for at least the past ten years,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua G. Aleshire, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief.

The term black-letter flight originates from the form used to inspect C-130s before and after each flight. The form is used as a checklist by crew chiefs. A discrepancy is highlighted with an x, a dash or a forward slash in red pen.

When there are zero discrepancies, the individual checking the aircraft will sign the form with their initials in black ink.

“It means a lot,” said Aleshire. “It’s a lot of hard work from everybody in the squadron. It’s nice to see it take off and keep the black-letter.”

“Black-letter flights are extremely rare,” said Lt. Col James D. Reaves, the 374th Maintenance Group deputy commander. “Discrepancies can be anything from a failed lightbulb to something more serious.”

In the civilian sector as well, nearly every flight will have some kind of issue that needs to be addressed, but wouldn’t ground the aircraft, Reaves said.

“To have the opportunity to sign a black letter form is a testament to the training and professional expertise of our Airmen,” reaves said.

Aleshire and his team’s black-letter C-130J not only took off as a black-letter, but received no discrepancies in-flight and so landed as a black-letter.

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