First Flight Marks Temporary Runway at Edwards AFB Operational

AFFTC CO Maj. Gen. David Eichhorn takes off in F-16D #89-2169 on the newly built temporary runway at Edwards AFB 5/19/08
Photo: Jim Shryne

5/20/2008 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, CA -- As an F-16 Fighting Falcon took off from the newly built temporary runway here May 19, it marked the runway's first-ever operational use.

Maj. Gen. David Eichhorn, Air Force Flight Test Center commander, helmed the F-16 and performed takeoff and landing maneuvers on the newly built runway, which also marked the beginning of the actual refurbishing of runway 22 and transfer of responsibility from the contractors to Edwards.

The temporary runway is part of the $103 million runway construction project headed by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

"The temporary runway will help sustain base operations from the period that they take down the main runway for its refurbishing to its completion," said Capt. Val Maldonado III, 412th Operations Support Squadron airfield operations flight commander. "This is to keep the mission going."

The 12,000-foot temporary runway is halfway between the ramp and the 15,000-foot main runway.

Prior to the first flight, the 412th OSS had to perform inspections and checks of the runway. On May 16, a group of volunteers performed a foreign object debris walk on the temporary runway.

"We did the inspection just like we do every day," said Larry Ledford, 412th OSS airfield manager. "We had to make sure no construction material was around the runway."

Before the runway could be used, a flight inspection, instrument approach inspection, nighttime evaluation of the airfield lighting, precision approach indicators checks as well as NASA certification for shuttle landings had to be performed.

"We expect it to be usable for the duration of our intended operation," Captain Maldonado said. "It is hard to say how long we can use the temporary runway. Runway 22 was developed to be a 25-year runway, but it lasted for 50 years. It depends on how well we treat the temporary runway and how well we maintain it."

Edwards has to refurbish main runway because it is deteriorating and posing a FOD threat to aircraft, said Master Sgt. James Woods, 412th OSS deputy airfield manager.

"The alkali and silicate in the concrete caused chemical reactions that weakened the concrete," Sergeant Woods said. "Once it gets to a certain extent, it gets more expensive to maintain."

Even with the construction, the base's operation workload has actually increased, Captain Maldonado said.

"We didn't have an increase in manning," he said. "However, we worked harder and longer. It was a good consolidated effort to make sure we were safe and still doing the job that we needed to do."

Including the contractors, base operations, 95th Civil Engineering and Transportation Directorate and the Army Corp of Engineers, the temporary runway construction posted more than 300,000 man-hours without an accident, Mr. Ledford said.

"Anytime you do something like this, it entails more airfield checks and inspections," Sergeant Woods said. "It is amazing that it was smooth as it was, and no one got hurt."

The ground work for the runway construction project began in January 2007.

Source: USAF Edwards AFB Press Release by Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes

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