Low Pressure, Heavy Lifting – CDDAR

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley
  • 177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
New Jersey Air National Guard maintainers from the 177th Fighter Wing's Crash Damaged Disabled Recovery (CDDAR) team trained at the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum in Cape May, N.J. May 22, 2016.

A primary objective of the CDDAR program is to return any runways involved in a mishap to operational status as soon as practical.

Unit members with unique fields of expertise teamed up to complete annual training using compressors, gauged manifolds, hoses and pneumatic bags to simulate lifting an F-16D Fighting Falcon with a failed landing gear.

"The simulation here today is with the right wing tip touching ground where we would get it up high enough, level enough and stable enough that the guys could come in, swing the landing gear down, lock it into place and the aircraft could hopefully be towed back," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Steve Henderson, 177th FW aerospace ground equipment technician.  "This technology can be used for civilian and military aircraft, up to a C-5 Galaxy, whether the aircraft is on hard ground or asphalt, in the woods or in mud, we have the tools to get it lifted."

Multiple lifting bags, similar to extremely heavy duty inflatable rubber rafts, serve several different functions during the process and are filled to varying levels of pressure depending on their position and contact with the aircraft.

"The contact bags, the ones that make contact with the aircraft, are a little bit flexible and only have 1-3 lbs. of pressure so they can conform to the aircraft surface, while the lifting bags underneath them are much more rigid, and are inflated to 7 lbs. per square inch," said Henderson.

The off-base training location, one hour drive south of the 177th FW is crucial to the team's training.

"The reason we come to Cape May to train is that we can't lift or even touch an FMC (Fully Mission Capable) aircraft with the equipment, " said Master Sgt. Frank Beck, weapons shop NCOIC. " We're able to do some familiarization training and fill our requirements for CDDAR training with this aircraft from the museum."

While the bag lift training is a requirement for the CDDAR Team, the training at the Southern tip of New Jersey also builds morale and camaraderie.

"Just trying to get the time and the logistics together is the hardest part," said Tech. Sgt. Robert Taylor, 177th propulsion element technician. "Fortunately we have the Wildwood museum which is very cooperative and able to give us this aircraft to use for any kind of exercise that we'd like to do. We get wrapped around our jobs at the full-time level so when we get down here to do this it's a big plus. It's one way I can get these guys together and have a good time, but get the job done and get the training done that we need....that we hopefully never have to use."