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Shelter, lighting project complete at Hill AFB

March 27, 2007 (by 2nd Lt. Beth Woodward) - Past and present 388th Fighter Wing leaders met March 26 on the wing ramp to mark the completion of a $6.25 million aircraft shelter and lighting project, a quality of life initiative for wing Airmen.

RoCAF F-16A block 20 #93-0722 from the 21st FS is photographed under a shelter at Luke AFB on February 16th, 2007. [Photo by Nightowl]

Construction on the 72 aircraft shelters began in September 2005, and the effort to light the shelters began in October 2006. Currently, the shelters are complete, and finishing touches to the lighting will end in April.

"Our flightline maintainers work hard to keep the fleet ready for training and combat deployments," said Col. Robert Beletic, 388th Fighter Wing commander. "Protecting them from the elements was the number one reason we began this project."

In the past, 388th Airmen and F-16s were exposed to snow, sleet, heat and UV rays on the ramp.

"The shelters are great," said Staff Sgt. Michael Zagone, 421st Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, who began working with the wing prior to shelter construction. "In the summer, you can feel the temperature difference in the shade, and in the winter, you don't have to work in knee-deep snow."

During a winter season, the shelters save an estimated 3,000 man hours and $130,000 in de-icing costs. The shelters are also expected to extend the life of the F-16's paint, saving an estimated $500,000 each year.

"A lot has changed in the last 38 years and now he have to be able to generate sorties at any time without worrying about time lost from the weather," said Brig. Gen. Charles Lyon, former 388th FW commander, who secured funds for the initial 18 shelters in May 2005. "It's great to come back to Hill AFB and see the many changes and improvements. This flight line shelter project was the brain child of Chief Master Sgt. Brian Janroy and all the credit goes to him for his vision and determination to see this project through from initial concept to full operational capability. We saw the need for the shelters to ensure the wing's ability to generate and launch homeland air defense missions in the post 9/11 environment, a mission the wing has been called to perform in conditions that range from blinding snowstorms and the heat of summer."

The wing initially planned to purchase four shelters each year, making the original completion date in 2023.

"General Lyon did so much for this wing. We are honored and thankful that he made time to come back to visit us and celebrate this occasion. The shelter project began thanks to his vision." said Colonel Beletic.

"We made this great idea a wing priority and thanks to help from ACC, AFMC, Ogden Air Logistics Center, 309th Maintenance Wing, 75th Air Base Wing, and many heroes in the 388th FW, we completed the project in less than two years," he said. "We wanted our maintainers to work under cover as soon as possible. This project completion is another example of our great Team Hill working together. The result is simply fantastic for our Airmen and the mission."

Indirect lighting in the shelters allows pilots and maintainers to easily perform inspections during night-flying training, a capability the 388th FW practices frequently.

"We used to perform inspections at night with flashlights. The lighting now lets us see the entire aircraft and bay area," said Sergeant Zagone.

The aircraft shelters are compliant with the F-35 Lightning II, the next generation fighter the 388th FW is expected to receive in 2013.

Neighboring units that travel to train on the 388th FW's Utah Test and Training Range may also take refuge under the shelters.

The wing's next step in improving quality of life for flightline maintainers is to build enclosed work stations at every row of shelters, said Colonel Beletic. These "crew shacks" would allow Airmen to easily access tools, order parts and log maintenance work.

While wing leaders look ahead to future improvements, the aircraft shelter and lighting project will remain a large quality-of-life advancement for Hill Total Force Fighter Wing flightline Airmen.

Courtesy of 388th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

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