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RODEO 2009: Maintenance Airmen begin their 'quest for the best'

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Maintenance competition ramped up today for Air Mobility RODEO 2009 where the "knucklebusters" were tested on their ability to keep aircraft ready to meet operation commitments.

The maintenance competition consists of three timed ground events, including a pre-flight inspection, aircraft refueling and basic post-flight inspection.

"The competition helps us to identify what we'll need in a deployed situation," said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Childers, maintenance team chief for the C-130 Hercules, from the West Virginia Air National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing at Charleston. "We are able to hone our skills in the process."

The RODEO umpires evaluate teams on aircraft pre-flight for compliance to technical data or the international rules. The ground refueling operations are evaluated for compliance within weapon system guides or international ground refueling rules. During post-flight inspection, teams are evaluated on their basic compliance rules.

"Our team consists of 12 members and practices in preparation for the events in pre- launch and recovery missions," said Sergeant Childers. "We go through all details of the aircraft, making sure everything is in compliance with the technical data, and also do some beautification."

"These events help us learn many things including the importance of paying attention to detail, the inspection process and staying in compliance with technical data," Sergeant Childers said.

Along with local units, there are seven other countries competing to include Belgium, Germany, Israel, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Spain and Turkey.

"RODEO establishes good will and camaraderie among our international partners," Sergeant Childers said. "We have the chance to build relationships and assist each other. "If you are deployed, you may find yourself in the same scenario of needing assistance from another country. This competition helps us to build mobility partnerships."