Planes don’t fly without fuel
By Senior Airman Tessa B. Corrick, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 28, 2020
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Barksdale houses the largest fuel storage capacity in all of Air Force Global Strike Command, which not only keeps the B-52H Stratofortress in the air, but also keeps the rest of the 2nd Bomb Wing moving.
“The fuels management flight is responsible for the storage, issue, quality control and distribution of fuel and cryogenic products,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jimmy Turner, 2nd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels superintendent. “My shop works with every squadron on base. If anyone wants fuel, then they have to deal with POL (petroleum, oil and lubricants).”
With all those responsibilities, multiple sections within the shop must come together to get the job done.
“The fuels service center, which is our accounting section, acts as our liaison to the rest of the base,” said Staff Sgt. Alexander Keenan, cryogenics NCO in charge. “They handle all accounting and reports as well as the ordering of all fuels.”
There’s a certain amount of fuel that must be maintained. So they must examine fuel levels every month. The numbers collected are then used to order the jet fuel. Once the fuel is received, is tested and approved, it is managed and dispersed across the different storage tanks on base, Keenan said.
The fuels laboratory is responsible for testing all the fuel to ensure it meets specific standards. They also test fuel samples for the 2nd Munitions Squadron ammo unit and the Army.
“Another section is the facilities section which maintains and inspects all fuel systems on base including the three military service stations, which act as gas service stations exclusively for government vehicles and equipment,” Keenan explained.
The facilities section is also in charge of maintaining and issuing liquid oxygen to servicing carts for aircraft. Liquid oxygen is needed during flight at high altitudes because when there is lower air pressure, there is less oxygen. Adding the oxygen back into the aircraft helps minimize the chance of aircrew experiencing hypoxia, Turner said.
The preventative maintenance section, in accordance with vehicle maintenance, is charged with keeping the fleet of fuel trucks operational. Altogether this team has to stay ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week because their services could be required at any time. In order to do this, they have developed a three-shift system.
“Dayshift, or ‘A’ shift, covers the inspection of both main fuel systems, issuing liquid oxygen, as well as any other complicated or out of the ordinary operations,” Keenan said. “‘B’ shift is generally the busiest shift for fuel distribution; therefore, my Airmen generally go back and forth, maintaining both fuel systems allowing distribution to accomplish the mission. ‘C’ shift covers fuel transfers and the inspection of the military service stations.”
Together the Fuels Management Flight distributes and issues approximately two million gallons of fuel every month, which is why their teamwork is so essential.
“Not only are we a team as a flight, but each section relies on teamwork to accomplish the mission,” Keenan said. “It’s easy to see our impact day in and day out. Not only are we essential around the clock, but planes don’t fly without fuel.”