News | Aug. 11, 2017

"Dirtboyz" pave the way

By Airman Michaela R. Slanchik 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Being stationed in the middle of tornado alley, inclement weather is bound to happen. When the weather hits, Whiteman Air Force Base’s flightline deteriorates. Chipped concrete, expanded cracks and protrusions are all products resulting from a mix of weather and natural wear and tear.

This spring the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) found about 35 patches of spalled, or chipped, concrete on taxiway K.

When foreign object debris (FOD), like chipped concrete, is in the path of an aircraft, it can be hazardous to the pilots and the aircraft. FOD can cause damage anywhere from a simple ding on the outer frame, to blowing out tires at high speeds, or shredding fan blades when sucked into an engine of an aircraft.

There are many preventative measures the Air Force practices in order to keep FOD as far from the flightline as possible. However, when the flightline itself is the problem, it’s crucial to fix it in order to protect Whiteman’s aerial fleet and personnel.

The 509th CES sent their pavement and equipment shop, the “Dirtboyz,” to repair the damage.

“The Dirtboyz here at Whiteman lead the way by providing pavement and structural support to our fleet,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Collin Nichols, the 509th CES pavement and equipment shop supervisor.

First, the Dirtboyz cut sections of the spalled concrete with a K-12 concrete saw with 14 inch diamond-tipped cutting blade, then jack hammer the ground to break it into small enough pieces for the airfield sweeper to remove the FOD. Then the holes are replaced with fresh cement.

“With this repair, the T-38 Talons will be able to use their taxiway again, enabling more flying hours,” said Nichols.

The team of eight Airmen took just under two weeks to completely restore 19 yards of concrete, making the taxiway mission-ready.

“No matter what the conditions, rain, snow, or high temperatures, our shop will get it done,” said Tech. Sgt. Marcos Silva, the 509th CES Pavement and Equipment shop NCO in charge. “Our mission is to have this pavement operational for Whiteman’s aircraft, Dirtboyz get it done.”

Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Whiteman Air Force Base website.