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Conversion training prepares 126th Maintenance Group for KC-135 R-models

Scott AFB, Ill. -- Recently the 126th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron completed "E" to "R" conversion training for the KC-135 R-model aircraft assigned to the 126th Air Refueling Wing.
Forty one members, out of a squadron of 68 personnel, received conversion training from members of the 373 TRS/Det 8 from McConnell AFB, Kan. This training will serve as a solid foundation for the squadron to build upon in the future.
The 41 trained members will now train the remaining maintenance members, as well as new enlistees assigned to AMS.
The conversion to the R-model is very exciting from the maintenance standpoint. No longer will we have to transport E-model specific parts around the world. We'll be able to use the same supply resources every other tanker unit uses.
Another benefit to finally becoming an R-model Wing is that our new enlisted members are trained on the R-model in tech school. In the past upon return from technical training, new troops had to be trained on the Wings' E-model aircraft. The Air Force technical school is now more a benefit than requirement.
A few airmen who attended the conversion training wanted to make it widely known that they have had the distinct pleasure of working on all variations of the KC-135.
Master Sgts. Phillip Becerra, Leslie Frye, Dexter Kane, and Michael Rasmussen, along with Tech. Sgts. Rick Gaddis and John Miskowski have worked the A, E and now the R model. And one young airman, Chief Master Sgt. Jimmy Nagel beats them all with one additional airframe under his tool belt -- the venerable KC-97.
In addition to conversion training, 18 mechanics were trained to operate the new engine. Each trainee found that the course was daunting with all of the numbers, limits and procedures required to be committed to memory for successful completion.
With the possibility of taking a test upon training completion, there were more than a few nervous individuals in the training classroom. Some hadn't taken a test in more than a decade, and now they were faced with one that could potentially affect their careers -- you could feel the tension. However, as they all put their knowledge to practical application, they found that their skills were as sharp as ever and the engine runs like a dream. Not only that, but if you didn't notice, they aren't as loud as the others.
Overall, we are very pleased with our newest acquisitions and the training we received. Now we just have to master the skill of locating them in the air as they fly; it's a lot harder without the cloud of carbon trailing behind.
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