Crew Chief Profiles

 Sgt. Mike Kopack

My profile

Name Sgt. Mike Kopack
Country
Unit 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Lucky Devils"
Crewing F-16s from 1987 until 1991
Contact MKopack Send me a private message
Website The Lucky Devils in the Gulf War
I spent my first two years with the 56th TTW at MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida, assigned to the 4456th and the 56th AGS working in the 63rd AMU (B-flight). We had Block 10 F-16A/B's. Only TDY being "Hurrivac'd" to Dobbins in the fall of 87 for Hurricane Floyd. Great assignment, warm weather (rain every afternoon at shift change.) BBQ on the base beach on Christmas Day - not bad for a kid from Syracuse.

Second assignment was the 401st TFW at Torrejon AB, just outside of Madrid, Spain. Worked Phased Inspection with the 401st EMS, 613th TFS Dock on our F-16C/D Block 30's. Went TDY to Aviano AB, Italy with the 614th Dock in Feb 90. Deployed, again with the 614th to Doha, Qatar during Operations Desert Shield and Storm. Prior to deploying, also worked with Transit Alert. Great assignment. Spain was a great time.

Current or Favourite assignment

The opportunity to live and work in Spain for a couple of years was incredible (not to mention the fact that Spain was a nonstop party...) I had the opportunity to travel through Spain, Italy, France, England, Scotland, and Qatar - along with 18 hours in West Germany, and 24 in Saudi Arabia. (and I think I had Chinese food in all but the last...) (might be some kind of record...)

Truthfully, I didn't enjoy the work in Phase as much as being on the flightline, but it was regular hours, working out of the sun, and rain.

Deployments

September 1990 - April 1991. Deployed to Doha, Qatar with the 401st TFW(P) / 614th TFS. First US Military to be deployed to Qatar.

Colonel Jerry 'Jed' Nelson was the Commander of the 401st TFW(P) deployed to Doha. He said "The friends we made in the trenches of serving this country, those we have shared that "kicked in the gut" feeling with are friends like no other."

It was amazing to see how our unit came together almost as a family during our Gulf War deployment (albeit at times a seemingly disfunctional family...) From the good times to the bad.

My Jets & Assignments

80509 [Detailed history of this F-16]
Unit 63rd Fighter Squadron "Panthers" [Unit History]
Period 1987 - 1989
Current: AAFG0129  USAF AMARC F-16A Block 10 [sto]
At the time the unit was the 63TFTS assigned to TAC. Assigned as an ADCC to 509, but spent more time working our 'B'usses, mostly [serial]78-0103[/serial] and [serial]80-0628[/serial]. I had preflighted 509 the night before it landed sans NLG. Was having lunch in the dorm prior to getting ready for work when a couple of guys from days walked in and said "Mike, your jet just crashed, we're all going to the hospital for drug tests." Without any more information on the 10 minute ride up to the hospital I was in shock, wondering about the pilot (we'd just had a new class start, so he was likely a young guy) and the jet. It turned to relief when we pulled up to the door and saw the pilot with a big smile sitting on the steps "I knew you guys were coming, so I thought we'd just all do this together..." The cause was a broken wire in the MLG well caused by a bad wire stripping tool and a defective NLG retract actuator. If we'd had the parts on hand the jet could have been repaired in an hour or two. The worst part was that the runway 'sanded off' the bottom 3-4" of the NLG door - where my name, as one of the ADCC's, was stenciled.
Unit 613th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Squids" [History]
Period 1989 - 1990
Worked Phased Inspection with the 401st EMS at Torrejon, assigned to the 613th Dock. Also spent quite a bit of time with Transit Alert. Learned to Phase jets quietly during the early parts of Desert Shield as half of out hangar had already been converted to a 'barracks', with most of the floor covered by cots, filled with sleeping soldiers on their way to the Gulf.
Unit 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Lucky Devils" [History]
Period 1990 - 1991
Deployed to the Gulf myself with the 614th Dock, AMU and TFS.
Other aircraft/assignments When things were slow in the Gulf I wandered around and was able to do some maintenance work on CF-18's and the Qatari Mirage F.1EDA/DDA's.

After getting out soon after my return from Qatar, I got my A&P and spent several years working for Lockheed Martin on KC-10's, P-3 Orions, and C-130's, with limited experience on HU-25's and many other aircraft. In my own time, I'm a aviation photographer covering military subjects and airshows from Ontario to Florida to Paris.

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