4th FW, 916th ARW crash recovery teams partner in aircraft reclamation

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  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

More than 50 military service members between the 4th Fighter Wing and 916th Air Refueling Wing Crash Damaged Disabled Aircraft Recovery teams (CDDAR) partook in an F-15E Strike Eagle crane-lift training, as well as KC-46A Pegasus familiarization at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, Nov. 7, 2020.

CDDAR is a program that falls under the 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron Repair and Reclamation section, established for the recovery and repair of a crashed aircraft. It’s not a program that is hoped to be used often, but Airmen must be ready and equipped at all times.

“In the event of a crashed aircraft or any kind of mishap, there’s many different recovery options, and a crane lift is just one of those options,” said Tech. Sgt. Brent Olson, CDDAR NCO in charge.

The training prepared Airmen for a possible real-world scenario in which an F-15E’s landing gear is inoperable and must be lifted by a crane to be moved off the runway. Other methods of aircraft recovery include pneumatic bags that fill with air to raise the aircraft and synthetic slings that are used to pull the aircraft off of the ground.

Lifting an F-15 is no easy task, however. There’s a lot of coordination needed to take place in order to have a 60-ton crane get to the flight line. The CDDAR began planning this operation mid-July and coordinated with the 4th Security Forces Squadron, Airfield Management, 4th Contracting Squadron and the Federal Aviation Administration to make the event possible.

“It’s been a lot of coordination, and we’re trying to streamline the process so if we do have to bring a crane down, we’re ready,” said Tech. Sgt Joshua Daly, 4th EMS Repair and Reclamation section chief.

Although lift-training occurs every year, the crane-lift procedure hasn’t been executed at SJAFB since 2016.

“A lot of our Airmen don’t have any history using a crane to lift the aircraft, so this is a great experience for them,” said Olson.

CDDAR used a Ground Instructional Aircraft, also known as a “B-Model”, for the lift exercise. The B-Model is a set aircraft that is no longer operable, but is used by several units to conduct realistic, conducive training for Airmen.

While this has been a valuable training experience for the Airmen of CDDAR, they weren’t the only ones who could benefit from the training.

“We invited the 916th (CDDAR) to the operation because even though it’s an F-15E, it still gives them the experience of a crash recovery operation,” said Olson. “In turn they’re giving us familiarization training on their new aircraft, the KC-46, in case their aircraft ever has an emergency.”

Although there may be two different wings with two different aircraft at Seymour Johnson, both crash recovery teams share a common goal; to prepare for the worse, and react as quickly as possible if it happens.