MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE – If you ask service members stationed at MacDill Air Force Base what they like about the location, many of them might say the warm weather and proximity to the ocean. However, maintainers who service aircraft over 60 years old might have a different opinion.
Corrosion caused by salt water in the air begins to wear on MacDill’s jets after each flight. The first step to stopping corrosion is to perform a wash in the “birdbath,” a plate-activated bath that flushes the jets. However, this is only the first line of defense against corrosion. What happens when the paint starts to crack?
6 Maintenance Squadron’s Corrosion Control Unit is critical to keeping our aircraft mission ready. This specialty shop is staffed by just five Airmen who are responsible for all the stencils and paint seen on the KC-135 Stratotankers.
Technology. sergeant. Kurtis Geiger, NCO in charge of the 6th Maintenance Squadron’s Corrosion Control Unit, is responsible for ensuring that important aircraft components are preserved and protected from the elements.
“It’s like you accidentally sand your car and the paint wears off,” Geiger said. “You should send your car to a body shop to have it repaired and repainted; this is what we do.”
Without corrosion control, various parts of the aircraft would begin to wear out in as little as 10 years. With aircraft built in the 1950s and 1960s, the importance of corrosion control cannot be underestimated. “Corrosion control is so important because of the salt. It destroys metal, breaking it down. This happens much more frequently at MacDill than at other bases in the central United States,” Geiger said.
As part of the manufacturing flight, the corrosion control section works daily to paint and refurbish landing gear, restorers, as well as air and ground equipment.
Senior Airman Cole Miller, 6th MXS Aircraft Structural Maintenance Journeyman, loves the job he does every day.
“I can come here to paint,” Miller said. “It’s so gratifying to see a rusty, chipped airplane part arrive and a few hours later come out looking like new.”
“We are repairing the structural integrity of the aircraft,” Miller continued. “That goes for all aircraft, Air Force-wide.”
Although corrosion control is only a small part of an even larger flight and squadron, Maintenance Airmen work hard to contribute to 6 Air Refueling Wing’s mission to ensure rapid global mobility.