Oklahoma Local 135 Members Go Above and Beyond to Save the Day at Altus Air Force Base

A group of IAM Local 135 (District 171) members who maintain aircraft simulators for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-46 program recently saved the program from serious catastrophe when a facility malfunction contaminated training simulator bays at Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma. 

The group said they were just doing their job, but after the incident, the Air Force had estimated to spend millions of dollars using an outside contractor for the necessary cleanup work over the course of 18 months. 

Instead, IAM Local 135 members had all of the simulators back in working order for training less than three months after the incident.

“All simulators that were certified previously are recertified and operating right now,” said IAM Local 135 Steward Jeffery Houtchens. “We cleaned and took care of devices that weren’t even turned over to us to maintain. Everything is back to normal. We definitely exceeded expectations with this.”

The KC-46 training program was established as a Service Contract Agreement program in 2022. The Boeing KC-46 Pegasus is a U.S. military aerial refueling and strategic transport aircraft that presently flies in support of combat operations. 

IAM Local 135 represents schedulers and simulator technicians for the Altus’s KC-46 Aircrew Training System.

“These union members saved the day,” Tony Valerio, Altus Flight Training Unit Site Manager and prior IAM member, said about the group.

“The best part is that these guys didn’t think that they were doing anything out of the normal,” said IAM District 171 Business Representative Roger Betz. “But they really came through and saved the Air Force a lot of time and money. They also helped out the instructors, pilots, and everyone who works in the program who were unable to use the simulators.”

IAM Local 135 simulator technicians who worked on the cleanup effort include Jeff Houtchens, Zachary Martin, Terry Gilbert, Jared Lingal, Brady Davis, Ryan Davis, Tanny Mungaven, Jay Roberts, Karen Hoska, Judy Branstetter, Tracy Dickens, Jean Olson and Allen Hearthen.

IAM Local 135 Schedulers who rescheduled instructors and training to keep training on track include Carmen Morris and Linda Wells.  

Share and Follow: