Airfield prepares for takeoff while most take off

COVID-19 has caused the workload of many to come to a screeching halt.

For aviators at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, this is not the case as they continued missions while their flightline infrastructure received repairs.

“Our airfield has continued to be in use in order to deliver medical supplies and other essentials to various locations within the region,” said Michael Horne, deputy airfield manager of Wiesbaden Army Airfield at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden.

With safety considerations and the needs of the region in mind, Horne recently reached out to the U.S. Air Force’s 435th Construction and Training Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, to assess and repair some of the wear and tear that’s accumulated over time on the 107-year-old airfield.

Usually the squadron is booked over a year in advance, but due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, the team was able to accommodate his request much earlier than anticipated.

“We called them to see when they could come out, and two weeks later, they were here ready to work,” Horne said.

The 435th CTS has a famed reputation when it comes to construction and airfield repairs, according to people familiar with the unit. Its troops are known for their high caliber of work, along with their professionalism and technical knowledge.

“What’s great is you don’t have to explain anything to them; they’ve got it,” said Norbert Violette, an airfield manager at Wiesbaden Army Airfield. “They are absolutely in their groove when they’re working on an airfield.”

The construction team brings its own equipment and supplies to complete the repairs. Most of the supplies have been purchased through local companies.

“They brought everything they needed with them,” Horne said. “We didn’t have to provide anything.”

Cracks in the pavement were closed through a process known as “joint repair” or “joint sealing,” to prevent water from further damaging the airfield. The repairs were made while not interfering with regularly-scheduled flight operations.

“They keep things rolling smoothly by maintaining great communication with the tower and follow all safety protocols,” Horne said.

The repairs that have been done can extend the life of Wiesbaden Army Airfield for up to five years and prevent more costly repairs in the near future.

The squadron continues to leave a lasting impression across services.

“We’ve enjoyed a sense of comradery that rarely happens amongst the Air Force and Army in our competitive nature but the teamwork on this one is phenomenal,” Violette said. “They were able to execute at a fraction of the cost of a contractor, saving the U.S. government an amazing amount of money while still meeting all of the specifications that are required.”