A 24-year tradition continued as 40 students from the Inter-American Air Forces Academy visited the 433rd Airlift Wing July 18, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, to learn more about the maintenance mission and how the Reserve Citizen Airmen maintainers keep the Air Force Reserve Command C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft battle operational.
The visit enabled the IAAFA class, composed of maintenance officers from Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama and Peru, to have familiarity with the fabrication, propulsion and sheet metal shops and an opportunity to enhance the partnership between the two units.
“Visiting your organization greatly enhances students’ understanding and knowledge of the [U.S. Air Force’s] maintenance structure and management,” said Mateo M. Gonzalez, an IAAFA instructor who teaches maintenance and superintendent courses. “As a premier training organization, our mission is to provide engagement through education and training.”
While attending IAAFA, students receive 10 weeks of instruction in technical and academic courses, such as aircraft maintenance management, in their native language of Spanish.
“The curriculum provides maintenance management skills to execute, prepare, and sustain maintenance activities,” said Gonzalez. “The courses are designed for maintenance officers and superintendents in leadership and management positions.”
The largest aircraft the IAAFA students maintain is the C-130 Hercules J. Being able to tour the C-5M was the highlight of the visit, said Gonzalez.
During the visit, the group toured different areas of a C-5M, to include the cargo compartment, flight deck and exterior of the aircraft. They also learned more about the aircrafts range and capabilities from a C-5M pilot.
“In addition to humanitarian missions, this is one of my favorite things I get to do,” said Maj. Brandi King, a 356th Airlift Squadron C-5M Super Galaxy instructor pilot. “For them to come here to our jet and show interest, that means the world to me. I love to share what I love, and that is flying the C-5.”
One student, Colombian air force Master Sgt. Yurge Trujillo, had a different opinion on his favorite part of the tour; viewing the GE CF6-80C2 turbofan engine.
“I work in engines, so this is the best part for me,” Trujillo said. “The biggest aircraft we have is the C-130, seeing the C-5 was wonderful.”
The machine shop was another favorite stop for Trujillo.
“The way they can make any types of parts of the aircraft and how the technicians use the water jet machine, that was great,” said Trujillo.
IAAFA academy was founded in 1943, predating the U.S. Air Force, making it the first U.S. training course in Latin America.
Today IAAFA graduates 800 partner station students annually while fostering inter-American relations and building nation partnerships.
“This objective is reached by exposing our Latin American students to organizations like the 433rd Airlift Wing where the student not only understands the maintenance structure and development, but also acquires the understanding of our coordination and communication with agencies outside the active duty world,” said Gonzalez.