Science and Technology News

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Saving the day one milli-inch at a time

by Airman 1st Class Ned T. Johnston
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


6/3/2014 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- When lives are on the line, there's no acceptable range for errors - not even two milli-inch's worth.

Airmen assigned to the precision measurement equipment laboratory know this to be true, because it's their responsibility to calibrate equipment down to the minutest of measurements to ensure the Air Force's mission goes on without fault.

Dave McGranahan, 6th Maintenance Squadron PMEL technician, is no novice when it comes to finding his way around the MacDill PMEL. McGranahan, a Riverview, Florida, native, was assigned to the MacDill PMEL in the 1980s when he was an active-duty Airman. Now a civilian stationed at MacDill, McGranahan has more than 30 years experience between his time on active duty and as a civilian.

On May 27, 2014, the MacDill PMEL received a piece of equipment from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, for a maintenance inspection that caught McGranahan by surprise.

"Being in the career field so long, it really takes a lot to catch me off guard, but this is a Vector Radar Boresight Fixture Q2 for an F-16," exclaimed McGranahan. "I used to inspect these parts all the time when I was stationed at a fighter base back when I was on active duty. It's been some time since I've seen one of these."

McGranahan took to a surface plate and proceeded to run the fixture through its inspection. Using an electronic height gage, McGranahan inspected the fixture on the parallelism of its mounting pins and brackets.

"Unfortunately, this part failed," said McGranahan. "It didn't fail by much, but all it takes is being a few milli-inches off to disqualify a part. I'll send it off to be fixed, and they'll send it back for another inspection when it's ready."

For today, McGranahan saved the Air Force a potentially mission-jeopardizing situation and took a glimpse back in time.

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