167th Airlift Wing celebrates reopening of Fuel Cell Maintenance Hangar

  • Published

The 167th Airlift Wing celebrated the long-awaited reopening of its fuel cell hangar in a ceremony held April 5, 2024. Amongst its attendees were local, state, and federal representatives and staff, leadership of the West Virginia National Guard, and Airmen from across the wing.

Design for repairs to Hangar 305 were completed in March 2021; a two-year undertaking, in and of itself.  Construction began February of the following year with the unit taking full occupancy February 2024.

 “This is the culmination of a long six-year drive down the field to get over the goal line. Before you here today, is that reality,” said Col. Martin Timko, commander of the 167th Airlift Wing.

During that time, members had been notably displaced from their work areas, making fuel cell maintenance of the wing’s C-17 aircraft a cumbersome undertaking. Hangar 305 had specific systems in place to conduct fuel maintenance safely, benefits that alternative locations did not have. Processes such as depressurizing the fuel systems, transferring fuel, and defueling the aircraft were often conducted outside for proper ventilation. Temporary mobile systems were used to force breathable air for venting while work was done on the fuel tanks. Meanwhile, continually moving aircraft added countless additional workhours to fuel system repair.

Personnel now have access to all the necessary tools and equipment on-location in a building specifically designed to accommodate aircraft fuel cell maintenance.

Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, stated, “The most valuable asset we have is ‘time.’ The reopening of Hangar 305 gives us back that time, and the ability to train and execute the mission with the utmost efficiency.”

To his point, the deteriorating fuel cell and its reconstruction posed a number of scheduling issues and logistical concerns. Still, throughout the completion of the project, the 167th continued to effectively execute global missions as a critical part of national defense efforts and domestic operations.

While the 167th is looking ahead to its upcoming missions, its commander took note of those who assisted in bringing the fuel cell project to fruition. “It takes an enormous amount of personnel to support a project of this magnitude,’ said Timko. “Those individuals provided advocacy, messaging, and some good ole fashioned Mountaineer stubbornness. They simply wouldn’t take ‘no’ as an acceptable answer.”