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McConnell maintainers display versatility and teamwork, bring home trophy

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Trevor Rhynes
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Six aircraft maintenance Airmen from Team McConnell stepped away from their Air Force comfort zone to compete against 56 top aircraft maintenance civilian and Department of Defense service members during the annual Aerospace Maintenance Counsel Skills Competition in Orlando, Florida, April 24 - 27.

Teams competed against each other in 26 events that ranged from removing a tire and brake assembly to troubleshooting a fuel quantity fault. Winners were determined by the team with the fastest overall time through all events. Teams with negative factors, including protective equipment misuse, not following a technical order, or missed steps, incurred time penalties.

“The competition encompassed what it’s like to be an aircraft maintainer because sometimes we have to think outside the box to find solutions to problems we come across,” said Tech. Sgt. Trevor Van Bunnen, 22nd Maintenance Group Electrical and Environmental technician and team lead.

This competition reinforced their ability to work together to find solutions and get exposure to different troubleshooting methods.

“As team lead, I was able to step back and see how everyone was stepping up and training others for their events,” he said. “That teamwork was great to see.”

Teamwork was vital to success during the competition. The team had to be flexible since they worked on equipment they were not experienced with.

“Working with new equipment was rough, but during the orientation we walked around the different events with the specialists and they were able to explain what to do,” said Staff Sgt. Cody Nelson, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion specialist and 22 ARW Flying Crew Chief of the Year. “One of the events I competed in dealt with equipment that fell under avionics. The avionics specialist was able to run through the event with me to make sure I’d be good to go.”

The McConnell team had 30 days prior to the competition to prepare, which included training teammates on a member’s particular specialty.

“Sergeant Nelson and I practiced for a month to build a wire harness assembly,” said Master Sgt. Oscar Armbruster, 931st AMXS Communications and Navigation specialist. “We were able to get our time down to about four and a half minutes. He stepped out of his job specialty to help me accomplish the task.”

At any given time, three events were happening simultaneously. Van Bunnen credited teamwork for the team’s ability to bring home a trophy for the fastest borescope of an oil tank, where they identified and removed a foreign object from an engine’s oil tank.

“We were proud to be the only Air Force team to bring home any hardware, and we were the only Total Force team, bringing reserve and active duty Airmen to compete,” Van Bunnen said.

The team already has their sights set on next year’s competition, where Van Bunnen thinks they’ll be able to apply lessons learned for a better finish.

“I’m extremely proud of our team for coming together and representing McConnell so well,” said Col. Grant Izzi, 22nd MXG commander. “This annual competition is a great way to sharpen our maintainer’s skills and to learn from maintainers around the world. Opportunities like this to interact with commercial aviation maintainers is important as we prepare to transition to the Air Force’s largest commercial derivative aircraft acquisition since the KC-135 – the KC-46 Pegasus.”