For a chicken, crossing the road to get to the other side is no big deal. Not so much so for an Eagle, an F-15C Eagle that is.
But crossing the road is exactly what happened in the wee hours Feb. 10, as a contingent from Air Forces Northern , the 325th Fighter Wing, and local civil authorities converged to move an F-15 Eagle from the flight line side of the base to the support side. It crossed the road to eventually be a static display in front of the Killey Center.
The project, which began Dec. 4, 2012, was one that "typified the epitome of teamwork and cooperation," said Lt. Col. Kathy Callahan, Chief, Aircraft Maintenance and Munitions division in AFNORTH's Logistics directorate. Primary contributors from AFNORTH were logistics (A4) and the installations and mission support directorate (A7).
"It took a lot of people and a lot of meetings to enable this move," she said. "The handling of the logistical requirements by everyone involved would make your eyes water. We cannot thank the 325th Fighter Wing and civil authorities enough for their critical contributions."
According to Phil Holzer, an aircraft maintenance analyst in logistics, and the A4 lead for this project, it was exactly the amount of coordination between the numerous agencies involved that presented the biggest challenge.
Maj. Kass Larson, Chief, Current Operations, and the A7 lead for this project, agreed. He said aside from A4 and A7 representatives, wing participants included: civil engineering (CE); contracting; security forces; communications and aircraft maintenance. Additionally, civilian participants included representatives from Gulf Power, Gulf Coast Electrical Cooperative; Griffin Traffic Signal; transportation and law enforcement officials.
Prior to the actual move, participants did a dry run of the route to identify specific obstacles that would need to be accounted for and temporarily altered during the actual move. These items included street signs, power lines, street lights and access gates.
Holzer said there were three options for the chosen route, each particularly weighted in one of the logistical aspects.
"Of the routes, one was heavy on CE, one was heavy on maintenance and one was heavy on the security forces," Holzer explained. "In the end, we chose the CE option."
As the team members arrived to begin operations at approximately midnight 10 Feb., the priority was to prepare the aircraft with the proper signage configuration and other requirements to legalize it for movement.
"The communications squadron supplied the team with land mobile radios and the security forces provided reflective vests," said Callahan. "In fact, the night environment gave the whole operation a special air."
After a required safety briefing and the go ahead from the maintenance operations center, the operation began.
"Throughout the planning and actual operation, our primary goal was to minimize prolonged impacts on both the participants and base populace," Larson said, adding electronic signs along the highway warned drivers of an upcoming equipment movement.
In the end, an operation that was scheduled to begin its Highway 98 journey at 2 a.m. started rolling at 1:25 a.m. Approximately 25 minutes after the aircraft left its spot on Perimeter Road; it was on its way out Dixie Gate thanks to a certified tow team from the 325th Maintenance Operations Squadron. The team consisted of Tech. Sgt. Jason Dunn, tow supervisor; Staff Sgt. Zachary Kyle, tow vehicle driver, and Tech. Sgt. Robert Scruggs who walked along the outer wing, primarily looking out for potential obstructions. Known as a wingwalker/chalkwalker, he was joined by several others, at various positions around the aircraft, doing the same, as the aircraft inched forward at three miles an hour. Maj. Michael McCourt, 325th Civil Engineer Squadron Operations flight commander, served as movement commander. The trip west on Highway 98 took 26 minutes.
Holzer said the gates were the trickiest parts with only one foot of space on either side and credited the "excellent efforts" of the tow team for ultimate success. The civilian power contractors assisted with raising the power lines and lights to clear room for the aircraft tail.
"The whole team came together to accomplish this mission seamlessly thanks to the outstanding efforts and dedicated professionalism of all involved," Larson said. "It truly reflected the spirit of Team Tyndall and our deepest gratitude goes out to everyone involved."