AMT 'sparks' hope for broken parts

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mikaley Kline
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Donning his protective gear and a welding helmet atop his head, he moves his gloved hand and lowers the head gear to protect himself. Wielding a plasma cutter, he slices through a piece of metal as if it were made of butter.

In mere moments, the metal piece he needs falls to the floor with a resonating clink.

Rich Samanich, 57th Maintenance Group aircraft metals technology shop lead and senior certified welding inspector, is one of a few technologists in the shop on Nellis Air Force Base.

Those who work in aircraft metals technology, or AMT, are trained on how to machine aircraft parts and special tools that are needed to maintain aircraft. The shop located at Nellis AFB is a combination of machine and welding shops.

"Aircraft Metals Technology is a great career field," said Nathan Reeder, 57th MXG aerospace machinist. "We are the welding shop for the flightline, so we weld aircraft components and aircraft ground equipment. We are also aircraft machinists, specializing in measuring and repairing bushings, bearings and hardware."

The AMT shop helps repair broken aircraft parts, ground support equipment and special tools for other shops around base.

"We don't just work on aircraft," said Samanich. "We also work on jet engines and make various parts. Our job covers numerous things, but the bottom line here is that if we get involved, the item must be pretty broken."

Having an AMT shop on base helps save money and keeps the mission rolling.

"We fix so many things that without the shop being here, the mission would definitely slow down, and it would cost a lot more money to go to a shop downtown," said Samanich. "We fix everything from wrenches and test equipment to regular special tools for other shops on base. Without us, there would be a lot of stuff that would go unfixed for a long time."

At Nellis AFB, AMT supports seven aircraft maintenance units, phase, the 57th Maintenance Squadron's munitions flight as well as the back shops, leaving little to no down time.

"We can do about four to five aircraft jobs in one shift, and we have three shifts in a day," said Samanich. "We run 24 hours a day, five days a week, with daytime shifts running on Saturday and Sunday."

The contractors at AMT oversee the shop and are responsible for everything there, but they also share the shop with three other military organizations plus any TDY units that need to utilize it.

"The rescue squadrons, Thunderbirds, and RED HORSE will sometimes use the shop," said Samanich. "Red Flag, Green Flag and TDY components will bring their own aircraft metals technologists because the performance work statement requires the use of space and equipment."

The technologists at AMT must have experience working with aircraft before they can get hired.

"We're contractors, and all of us have gone through Air Force technical schools," said Samanich. "Here, we need to be experienced on the various air frames, and we require about eight years of experience on those aircraft. The welders have to be certified every five years."

One thing that makes the AMT shop at Nellis AFB unique is that technologists get to work on all the different air frames.

"We probably have the most variety of any other base in the Air Force," said Samanich. "We also share our shop with other people, while most other places may not."

After putting countless hours and hard work into helping repair broken aircraft parts, the reward for many of the shop's workers is seeing an aircraft get safely back into the sky.

"Some people say we are the modern-day blacksmiths of the Air Force," said Reeder. "We fix aircraft with fire, water, electricity and creativity. We have the coolest toys in the Air Force, including CNC machines, a water jet cutter, plasma arc cutters and just about every type of welder made. We have the opportunity to learn new things every day. Our career field is like the game of golf; you get better the longer you do it, but you will never master it."