• September 19, 1979: Transfer from Saffraanberg to 1Wing.
  • Assignment to the Engine shop.
  • Technical techniques learning.



Wednesday September 19, 1979, Dauchot Maurice, Lamock Guy, and myself, (Prom A2C-78-12F) are moving from the Saffraanberg Technical School to 1st All Weather Fighter Wing of Beauvechain.
We’re transferred with three members of the Prom A2-76-1F:  Sgt Baude Daniel, Sgt Bormann Helmut and Sgt Watrelot Jean-Yves.
We’ve been designated to take a course on Pratt & Whitney F-100-PW-200 engine. At the end of it we should be certified as engine specialist on F-16.
The administrative admission formalities keeps us busy for the remaining of the week. Among other things the Equipment Section provides us our new badges and insignias.


Audeo Aciem badge02          Audeo Aciem Ecusson02


The following week, all of us are informed about their own assignment within the Air Base. Helmut Bormann, Maurice Dauchot and Guy Lamock are posted to the "Repair" section, while Daniel Baude, Jean-Yves Watrelot and myself are posted to the "Engine Shop" section.

Since none of us are currently qualified on any type of aircraft, as a result we'll have to assist the technicians in their job and, step by step, learn the basics concerning the proper tools handling, the discipline and cleanliness during working. In other words, we'll have to carry out our apprenticeship.

The Engine Shop is at that moment under the command of Lt Durochez, a outstanding technical officer who shares freely its expertise.

The second in command is a Master Warrant Officer with a strong character named Frans dee Boes. He's very authoritarian and does not accept any deviation from the rule; we have to respect the working schedule, the break times, and try to keep busy at all time, as he does not usually manage to see somebody doing nothing. (*)

(*) The Engine Shop is the main and only J-79 engine provider of the Air Base. Therefore, ADC de Boes is constantly pushed to provide an engine to any squadron who request a new one.  F.O.D. (Foreign Object Damage), Bird Strike, these are two examples of event which request an engine change, as in both cases the engine must be completely disassembled to be repaired.
It's then mandatory to the Engine Shop to keep the pace, and even try to get some J-79 engines in advance. The engines under maintenance in the shop are numerous, therefore, the technicians have absolutely no time to waste.

The Engine Shop is installed in a long building located next to the heavy maintenance hangar in the south of the Air Base, nearby the main gate checkpoint, the Check Post 1.
The shop is divided along its length in sections called "docks, each one of them containing an engine. All the docks are devoted to the overhaul or repair of the Starfighter's engine, the General Electric J-79, except the first dock who's reserved to the brand new Pratt & Whitney engine. (*)
Every dock is composed of a technician team beeing in charge of an engine since its receiving till its transfer to the test bench where it will be tested before to be reinstalled in an airframe.
I'm personally assigned to a dock supervised by Adj Georges Dejaeger and Adj Gaby Bonlaron.

(*) In September 1979, the 1Wing only owns a few F-16 aircraft: three double seat aircraft (FB01 > FB03) as well as six single-seater (FA01 > FA06) have been delivered by SABCA, the last one (FA06) has been taken in charge by the Belgian Air Force on the 21st of September.
The first dock devoted to the Pratt & Whitney engine has been recently implemented.

During that period of training, I will improve my safety wiring technique as I will spend hours and days to lock wire bolt-heads one-to-the-other using some safety wires and a safety wire twister. A lot of safety wires will be cut before the end by Adj Bonlaron which is inflexible about the quality of the work performed on an engine. A safety wire a bit to loose... and clip !  I have to start over.
With the practice, I miss less and less of my wiring. When Gaby notices that a safety wire is done the wrong way, he just say : "Do I let you go on with this one ?" ... and clip !  I cut it by myself ! 

Weeks fly by pretty quickly, until the day we're informed that we've been assigned to the next conversion course on F-100 engine, scheduled within the following month in October 1979.


Next: MTU F-16 - F100 - Introduction 


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