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Preparing today’s maintainers for tomorrow’s C-130 fleet

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark --

C-130 Hercules maintainers worldwide begin their maintenance careers at Little Rock Air Force Base and for select instructors here, they craft those students into professionals supporting rapid global mobility.

The 373rd Training Squadron Detachment 4 instructor team provides state-of-the-art aerospace maintenance training to conduct direct operational support to Team Little Rock, Department of Defense and coalition Air Forces around the world.

Little Rock is the largest C-130 base where students receive mission-essential training and certifications.

The training squadron has a dual role, teaching Airmen returning for advanced training and new pipeline students straight from initial technical school training located at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

“We teach active duty, Guard, Reserve, civilians and international students,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jose Piedra, 373rd TRS Det. 4 production supervisor and instructor. “For every command that has a C-130, we will train their maintenance personnel.”

A vital part of that training is teaching students to understand the “why” of a maintenance malfunction, and not just reading from a technical order.

“I’ll have students that come in confused about a process and just repeat what the technical order says and not really understand what it means,” he said. “As we go through the course building one lesson on top of the last and showing them why an item works this way, I start seeing those light bulbs come on.”

Addressing issues and questions in the classroom that may happen on the flightline allows students the ability to relate to training.

“When they come to class there are no wrong questions because they come here to learn and make mistakes,” Piedra said. “I can easily fix the situation here in a controlled environment. When they are on the flightline, they are dealing with actual assets. If they break that asset, they take down an ability their command should have been able to offer.”

For every class offered at the 373rd TRS, each instructor brings a unique experience and background to the environment.

“The training has been insightful and interesting,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Aaron Knight, 373rd TRS student. “The different perspectives instructors bring to the classroom and the value of the information they provide are great resources with the course work.”

Understanding and diagnosing aircraft system problems and teaching other Airmen at their unit is the ultimate goal for every instructor for their students.

“When they take that knowledge back to the flightline it motivates me as an instructor,” Piedra said. “The training and structure remain the same for each student and it keeps up Air Force standards but it’s what each instructor brings to the classroom that really sticks with each of them.”

Providing flexible training worldwide, anticipate and exceed the needs of customers and promoting the highest standards of quality instruction is the goal for the 373rd TRS.

“We train the students how to accomplish their mission, to be more efficient with their time, and resources, and to be more proficient,” Piedra said. “We raise the bar for all of our students to be a better maintainer.”