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Emergency aircraft recovery crew leader Sgt. William Seldon and crewman Lance Cpl. Josh Kidwell check the lubrication on one of four sets of arresting gear on the flight line at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., July 8, 2009. The recovery crew repaired a set of gear that was out of operation for more than two years. The device uses a heavy steel cable and heavy nylon tapes to rapidly decelerate landing aircraft in an emergency, much like the arresting gear on an aircraft carrier.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron Diamant

Yuma Marines keep flight line safe for disabled aircraft

23 Jul 2009 | Lance Cpl. Aaron Diamant

Emergency aircraft recovery Marines repaired one of the stations plane-stopping arresting gear, which had been out of commission for more than two years due to problems with the gear’s foundation on the flight line July 7-11, 2009.

After waiting for a contractor to repair the foundation, the recovery section Marines spent long days in the sun and worked late into the night to make it operational.

Similar to the equipment used on the short runways of aircraft carriers, the gear here is used for emergencies to rapidly decelerate an aircraft, bringing it to a stop in 900 feet, said Staff Sgt. Ruben Ogaz, section staff noncommissioned officer in charge.

The arresting gear is comprised of two engines, one on each side of the runway, that are rigged together with heavy nylon tapes and a steel deck pendant.

Limiting the amount of distance the aircraft can travel when making an emergency landing makes it easier for the pilot to maintain control, said Sgt. William Seldon, an emergency aircraft recovery crew leader.

The station’s other three sets of arresting gear have been operational and were used for emergencies three times last year, said Ogaz.

The recovery section inspects the equipment every morning to ensure it works. Recovery also performs weekly, monthly and annual maintenance required so it is in top working order in case of an emergency.

The section also makes sure the flight line has at least one set of arresting gear set up and ready to be used in an emergency. If the gear is used, the recovery section uses the engines attached to the arresting gear to reel the tapes and cable back into for later use.

If an approaching aircraft is unable to use the predeployed arresting gear, recovery can set up another one of the three remaining sets in a few minutes.

“As long as they’re on the ground and the pilot gets to walk away, that’s the main mission of our job here,” said Seldon.

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