This ain’t your daddy’s ole tire shop

  • Published
  • By Peter Borys
  • 914th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

When it comes to tires these are heavy duty and so are the Reserve Citizen Airmen who maintain them.

The tires are possibly one of the last areas one would think about on an aircraft, but it’s one of the most integral parts of any airframe.  Without it the aircraft won’t get off the ground.

Enter the 914th Maintenance Squadron Aero/Tire Shop where their team is responsible for tires and wheels, rigging flight control cables and crash recovery.  Three disciplines under one shop.

Master Sgt. Vincent "Chris" Spacone the shop chief, said they repair and replace between three to four hundred tires for the KC-135 Stratotanker per year.

“When tires are broken or worn, we repair the wheel itself which is a split rim, replace it with a new tire and rebuild all the components and put it back together. Some days it’s a one day turnaround and put back into supply. These guys and girls work pretty hard,” said Spacone.

Unlike vehicle tires that vary depending on the terrain and weather conditions, aircraft tires basically come in one standard type, but the air pressure fluctuates with the aircraft payload.  “The heavier the payload, some air has to come out of the tire and vice versa a lighter payload has to have air added to the tire,” added Spacone.  Crew Chiefs on the line are responsible depending on the payload as to how much or how little air pressure is in the tires.

There is no warranty on these tires.  “They could last a month, they could last three months. Depends on how hard of a landing they're taking, how often their flying,” said Spacone.

Each aircraft has a total of ten tires: Eight for the main landing gear and two for the nose gear, but like any really good repair shop that’s not all they do.

Aero shop takes care of the cables, pulleys and flight controls making sure they are operating in safe parameters, landing gear is operating correctly and any defects will be replaced or repaired.

Another important part of their responsibilities is being part of the crash recovery team. “It could be anything from the nose gear wheel getting stuck in the mud after veering off the runway to God forbid, a more severe crash where we have to get something out of the dirt,” said the Master Sergeant.

Spacone boasted, “We can go anywhere to recover an aircraft. If it’s in the woods or in a field we can get it out.  The team is amazing. We have every talent on base from electricians to machinists, crew chiefs, hydraulic specialists, every discipline and everybody helps. The only terrain that would change that would be if it’s ditched in the water. That becomes the Navy’s jurisdiction for recovery."