Story by CPT Ramah Husidic on 08/04/2019When asked what the four large black fan looking pieces sitting in the parking lot off the runway in Sioux City, Iowa were. Tech Sgt. Luke Feilmeier responded, "It's a Runway Braking System." Tech Sgt. Feilmeier is from Colo, Iowa and a Power Pro for the Civil Engineers at the 185th Air Refueling Wing.
The Runway Braking System is completely replaced every ten years according to the regulations as laid out in the Air Force Instruction manual. "Have you ever seen a video of a jet that lands on a Navy AirCraft Carrier and the line that hooks to the jet so it can stop in a short distance without falling off the ship? That's this Runway Braking System." added Staff Sgt. Kalen Kluender who is also a power pro for the civil engineers in the 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City Iowa.
"This whole piece is in the ground and we use cranes to lift them out and replace them. There are two on each runway, facing north and south. There are over 12,000 feet of tape and 120 feet of cable laid between the two Runway Braking Systems. When a plane lands east to west the tail hook grabs on to the tape and pays the tape out," said Tech Sgt. Feilmeier as he draws a diagram in a notebook to explain the operation.
The Runway Braking System needs to be synced at the same pressure so the plane stays in the center of the runway as it slows the plane. "It's just like how your car's brakes work with equally applied pressure," Staff Sgt. Kluender contributed.
As they worked to complete the replacement maintenance checks the civil engineer team talked about how this work applied to there civilian carriers to the new recruits. "The training I can use in my everyday life." said, Tech Sgt. Feilmeier, who is a Park Ranger in Story County Iowa. He continued "Some days I'm fixing a pump other days its a motor. When you read a complicated diagram and work on it from that, it gives you the confidence to work on other things."
"I love the variety, we work on generators, big stuff like 800 KiloWatt power supplies. We can if needed supply power to a whole base. It's like having the responsibility of powering a whole city," said Staff Sgt. Kluender from Akron, Iowa. He works for an electrician and is finishing up his hours on his journeyman's license. Kliender explained civil engineering has two sides they are responsible for on the 185th Refueling Wing. The transformer and power supply side and the Runway Braking System side.
As Tech Sgt. Feilmeier and Staff Sgt. Kluender shared how it applied to their civilian careers. Airman First Class Sean Westerguard from Salon, Iowa is a new recruit and a business student is heading to Air Force Basic Training in January shared, "I joined because my family has served and I love the hands on training I receive." Sean said he will receive a $20,000 bonus for joining the Iowa Air Guard.
The best thing about this, as he looks at his fellow Airmen, Tech Sgt Feilmeier says, "is teaching the braking system, getting to meet the next generation of power pro's and teach them our shop culture of incivility. Everyone is included in group messages from day one and invited to hang out after drill when work is done. We highlight a team atmosphere. We are not all business we know each other personally and respect each other."