Fueling the Altus mission

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class J. Zuriel Lee
  • 97th AMW/PA
The 97th Air Mobility Wing uses 827,000 gallons of fuel each week, but there is a lot of work that happens between the fuel arriving from the supplier and being put into the aircraft.

The fuels laboratory here takes samples of all the Defense Logistics Agency Energy product fuels that are on the base and tests them against the regulations set by Air Force instructions. These tests ensure the fuel is clean and useable.

"The biggest misconception is that the 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels flight just delivers the fuel to the aircraft," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Christopher Lauderback, 97th LRS fuel information service center section chief. "There is much more that goes on behind the scenes."

"A lot of people believe that all of the fuel on base is owned by the Air Force, except for what is in the aircraft or in the vehicle, when actually it is owned by DLA Energy," Lauderback said. "We ensure that the product is on spec, accounted for and delivered on time, whenever the customer needs it."

The Airmen who work in the lab are not chosen at random. They have to develop the knowledge and skills to do the job well.

"Airmen must have the maturity to do the job and the integrity to follow the safety precautions," Lauderback said. "They go through a three-week joint service course to prepare them for the job."

The Airmen work on fuel samples for many hours in the lab. They are trusted to accomplish the mission while ensuring the proper procedures are followed.

"These guys have integrity above reproach and were hand-picked above their peers," Lauderback said. "It takes a keen eye to do this job. It is a privilege to work in the lab, not a right."

"This job requires a lot of attention to detail," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Zakkary Wiest, 97th LRS fuels lab technician. "We have to make sure we are on our 'A game'. We ensure that the fuel on the aircraft is of the highest quality."

The work that is done in the lab has a huge impact on the base's overall mission.

"These guys are ensuring the fuels management flight provides clean, dry fuel to all of the aircraft." Lauderback said. "Without that fuel, planes don't launch, pilots, boomers and loaders don't get trained and global mobility doesn't get accomplished. So it all starts here."