Nowhere in the 439th Airlift Wing’s mission statement does it say anything about Yankee ingenuity, but it should, because when the Westover maintainers needed a part for a C-5, they made it themselves.
The “knuckle busters” of the 439th Maintenance Squadron needed an elevator support bracket. To make it mission capable, they made the bracket from a large block of aluminum, saving the Air Force time and money.
During a routine inspection, Technical Sgt Konrad Hundley noticed a broken elevator bracket. The piece was coded as depot-repair only, but there were no elevator brackets in the system.
Along with Mr. Steve Holloway, 439th MXS accessories supervisor, they submitted two unique engineering requests: one to manufacture the part locally, and another to deviate from the specified material.
Then Mr. Gary Surozenski, a metal technician at the Regional Isochronal Inspection hangar, served as the lead machinist with assistance from Master Sgt John Vescovi and Technical Sgt Richard Towlson.
In September 2016, they received approval from Warner-Robins depot to manufacture the part. It took five days to complete, with a cost of $1,500, compared to what would have been a month turnaround and a cost of $50,000 if ordered through an outside source.
The part started as a 100-pound aluminum slab in the machine shop. Using Surozenksi’s CAD data, a milling machine, and the skills of Towlson, the process began.
The meticulous machining work done by Vescovi’s shop was exacting and before being installed, the six pound part needed to undergo a non-destructive inspection.
Once the part cleared NDI it was given to the Sheet Metal Shop, where they installed the elevator bracket on the aircraft, making it the oldest C-5 with the newest Westover-made part.