JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --
A 24-year tradition continues as 40 students from the Inter-American Air Forces Academy visited the 433rd Airlift Wing July 18, 2018 here to learn about the C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft, the maintenance mission and how the Reserve Citizen Airmen maintainers keep their Air Force Reserve Command of C-5Ms battle operational.
The class is composed of maintenance officers from Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama and Peru. The purpose of the tour was to build partnerships and expose the students to the fabrication, propulsion and sheet metal shops that keep the C-5M mission ready. The students toured the C-5M Super Galaxy’s cargo compartment, flight deck and exterior of the aircraft.
“Visiting your organization greatly enhances students' understanding and knowledge of the USAF's maintenance structure and management,” said Mateo M. Gonzalez, an IAAFA instructor who teaches the maintenance and superintendent’s courses. “As a premier training organization, our mission is to provide engagement through education and training,” he said.
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. The courses are designed for maintenance officers and superintendents in leadership and management positions,” the former U.S. Air Force maintainer said.
The highlight of the tour was seeing the C-5M according to Gonzalez. The largest aircraft these students maintain is the C-130 Hercules he said. The students toured the flight deck of the C-5M and spoke with a pilot about the aircrafts range and capabilities.
“In addition to humanitarian missions, this is one of the favorite things I get to do,” Maj. Brandi King, C-5M Super Galaxy instructor pilot with the 356th Airlift Squadron, said. “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,” she said.
One student had a different opinion on his favorite part of the tour, which was the GE CF6-80C2 turbofan engine, for Master Sgt. Yurge Trujillo of the Colombian Air Force. The engine he is most familiar with is the C-130 and the A-37 Dragonfly, a light attack aircraft.
“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,” he said. The machine shop was another favorite stop according to him.
“The way they can make any types of parts of the aircraft and how the technicians use the water jet machine, that was great,” Trujillo said.
The history of the academy predates the U.S. Air Force. IAAFA was founded in 1943 at Albrook Air Force Station, Panama, making it the first U.S. training course in Latin America.
In 1989, IAAFA closed its doors at Albrook AFS and moved to Homestead Air Force Base, Florida. In 1992, after almost a complete destruction of the facility by Hurricane Andrew, the academy relocated to Lackland, Air Force Base, Texas, opening its doors in just under 100 days later in 1993.
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,” Gonzalez said.