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Maintenance University provides intensive training for Air Guardsmen from 5 states

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dustin Harrison, a propulsion mechanic from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, inspects the hub of a C-130 propeller at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. Harrison is attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dustin Harrison, a propulsion mechanic from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, inspects the hub of a C-130 propeller at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. Harrison is attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Patrick Howard (left), and electrician from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, teaches U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ethan Sartin, also from the 123rd, how to remove an electrical generator from a C-130 engine at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 14, 2016. The class is part of Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Patrick Howard (left), and electrician from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, teaches U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ethan Sartin, also from the 123rd, how to remove an electrical generator from a C-130 engine at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 14, 2016. The class is part of Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

An aerial porter from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing waits to offload cargo from a Connecticut Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 13, 2016. Airmen from the Connecticut unit are participating in Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

An aerial porter from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing waits to offload cargo from a Connecticut Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 13, 2016. Airmen from the Connecticut unit are participating in Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Lonie Gipson (second from left), a crew chief from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, teaches Airmen from the Connecticut, Kentucky, Montana and Missouri Air National Guard about the operation of a C-130’s Auxiliary Power Unit during a class at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 14, 2016. The class is part of Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Lonie Gipson (second from left), a crew chief from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, teaches Airmen from the Connecticut, Kentucky, Montana and Missouri Air National Guard about the operation of a C-130’s Auxiliary Power Unit during a class at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 14, 2016. The class is part of Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

Roger Snow, a field service representative for Rolls-Royce Corp., teaches Airmen from the Connecticut, Kentucky, Montana and Missouri Air National Guard about the operation of C-130 engines during a class at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. The class is part of Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

Roger Snow, a field service representative for Rolls-Royce Corp., teaches Airmen from the Connecticut, Kentucky, Montana and Missouri Air National Guard about the operation of C-130 engines during a class at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. The class is part of Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Marks (left) and U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Alan Broadus, propulsion mechanics from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, mount a propeller to a C-130 engine at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. Both Airmen are attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Marks (left) and U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Alan Broadus, propulsion mechanics from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, mount a propeller to a C-130 engine at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. Both Airmen are attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Marks, a propulsion mechanic from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, mounts a propeller to a C-130 engine at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. Marks is attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Marks, a propulsion mechanic from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, mounts a propeller to a C-130 engine at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. Marks is attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

An Airman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing marshals a Connecticut Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 13, 2016. Airmen from the Connecticut unit are participating in Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

An Airman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing marshals a Connecticut Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 13, 2016. Airmen from the Connecticut unit are participating in Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing remove an engine from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. The Airmen are attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing remove an engine from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. The Airmen are attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Marks, a propulsion mechanic from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, removes an engine from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. Marks is attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Marks, a propulsion mechanic from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, removes an engine from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. Marks is attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Alan Broadus, a propulsion mechanic from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, removes an engine from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. Broadus is attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)
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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Alan Broadus, a propulsion mechanic from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, removes an engine from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. Broadus is attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Wilder, a crew chief from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, inspects an exhaust port on a C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. Wilder is attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)
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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Wilder, a crew chief from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, inspects an exhaust port on a C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. Wilder is attending Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

Airmen from the Connecticut, Montana, Missouri and Kentucky Air National Guard attend a training class on hydraulic testing at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 14, 2016. The class is part of Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)
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Airmen from the Connecticut, Montana, Missouri and Kentucky Air National Guard attend a training class on hydraulic testing at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 14, 2016. The class is part of Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction in aircraft maintenance. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jim Sneed, NCOIC of financial services for the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, teaches a class on the Defense Travel System at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. The class is part of Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction to aircraft maintainers. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)
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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jim Sneed, NCOIC of financial services for the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, teaches a class on the Defense Travel System at the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., June 15, 2016. The class is part of Maintenance University here, a weeklong course designed to provide intensive instruction to aircraft maintainers. Now in its eighth year, Maintenance University is sponsored by the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- More than 260 Air National Guardsmen from five states are attending a unique, weeklong course in aircraft maintenance here to enhance proficiency in everything from hydraulics to electrical generation.

The annual event, now in its eighth year, is called Maintenance University, explained Capt. James Campbell, the course's detachment commander. It was created in 2008 by maintainers at the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Airlift Wing because of the difficulty that traditional Guardsmen have accomplishing proficiency training on drill weekends.

Those Guardsmen often have to juggle conflicting demands during drill, from mandatory medical exams and physical fitness testing to ancillary training events like suicide awareness and information security, Campbell said.

"Drill weekend is very compressed, with a lot of appointments, ancillary training and all the other things that drill-status Guardsmen have to do to maintain readiness," said Campbell, commander of the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Maintenance Operations Flight in Louisville.

"But those things take time away from our primary mission, which is aircraft maintenance, and many of our Airmen wanted more hands-on time with the aircraft. So Maintenance University was designed to get our Airmen off base for a solid week, to a place like Savannah, Georgia, where they could do nothing but work on aircraft in a structured training environment."

Staff Sgt. Ernst Visscher, a C-130 crew chief from the Montana Air National Guard, said it's a great idea.

"As a drill-status Guardsman, this gives us a lot more experience than we can get at home station," he said. "Yesterday, we did an engine run, which is something I've never done back home. That was a really great experience."

Campbell said participation in Maintenance University has grown every year -- a testament to its efficacy. What began as a way to keep traditional Kentucky Air Guardsmen proficient on C-130H aircraft maintenance has expanded to include units from a half-dozen locations and more than 1,000 total Airmen.

This year, participating units include the 103rd Airlift Wing, Connecticut Air National Guard; the 120th Airlift Wing, Montana Air National Guard; the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard; and the 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard.

The course, being staged at the Air National Guard's Air Dominance Center from June 13 to 18, offers other benefits in addition to helping Airmen maintain proficiency, Campbell said. One of those is informal networking.

"If you've got a problem with hydraulics and you can't figure it out, who do you call?" Campbell said. "Maintenance University gives our Airmen a chance to develop a network of maintainers at other units that they can bounce ideas off of. Now they have a name, now they have a face, and they can ask, 'Hey, have you guys seen this, and how did you fix it?'"

Airman 1st Class Kevin Douglas, a drill-status Guardsman and C-130 crew chief from the Missouri Air National Guard, agreed.

"I wish I could attend more classes, but it's only a week," Douglas said. "I've really enjoyed meeting new people because I'm able to learn from other units and see how they do things. That's extremely valuable."

Another benefit is the specialized training being offered by national subject mater experts on such topics as vibration analysis, said 2nd Lt. Daniel Sanford, a maintenance officer from the Connecticut Air National Guard.

"Our maintainers are qualified in vibration analysis, but it's really great to have that SME teaching you and providing inside tips based on their long corporate knowledge," he said.

A fourth benefit of Maintenance University is the opportunity it provides to build esprit de corps.

"We have a lot of new people who haven't gone on (temporary duty assignments), so Maintenance University is a great way for our Airmen to learn more about each other and boost esprit de corps," Sanford said. "It's really rewarding to see everyone from the different shops interact with each other and build good working relationships."

For Staff Sgt. Preston Pemberton, a full-time electrician in the Connecticut Air National Guard, the biggest benefit of Maintenance University is the opportunity it provides to train outside his specialty.

"I'm learning a lot about things like propulsion systems or hydraulics," he said. "Being in those classes and having the chance to do things like get my hands on the engines is really outstanding."

Sanford said the course is so valuable, his Airmen look forward to it every year.

"Our Airmen, from the most junior enlisted members to the senior NCOs, have nothing but positive feedback about the training they're getting," he said. "They love the fact that they are able to get off base for a week and concentrate solely on aircraft maintenance, network with other maintainers in the C-130 community and have some down time with each other to build unit cohesion. It's always a great experience."