Keesler airfield gets much needed makeover

  • Published
  • By Steve Hoffmann
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
The Keesler airfield is getting a facelift, a pamper me day if you will, to remove its rough, dry, aged and cracking surface to allow new layers of smooth concrete to be applied. It's getting a little tender-loving care. Of course, this will involve rakes, shovels, jack hammers, and the pouring of concrete and boiling-hot asphalt. But if you had 80-ton C-130s landing on you every day, you'd probably like it like that, too.

"The Keesler airfield and flight line are going through some dynamic changes in order to make it a viable airfield for today, tomorrow and into the next decade," said Tech Sgt. Timothy Larson, 81st Operations Support Flight and airfield management quality assurance evaluator.

"The airfield management team, airfield manager and operations support flight leadership have fought for funding for airfield projects on a constant and relentless basis with a sight picture for future growth and mitigating hazards to assigned aircrews."

Pavements, both asphalt and concrete, are the skin of runways and taxiways. With age and use they begin to lose their structural integrity and show signs of aging by cracking, breaking and producing loose debris. So periodically, a makeover is needed to ensure aircraft and crews have a safe surface to do their jobs.

Airfield facelifts aren't cheap, either. According to Larson, the running tab is approximately $1.1 million. However, this money is going to local and regional contractors that often trickles into the local economy. Since September, five projects have been completed.

These projects include completely tearing out and replacing concrete slabs, re-pouring asphalt on the primary taxiway, removing rubber from countless tire skids and repainting various runway, taxiway and apron markings.

"The reason for these repairs is to allow the aircrew to have more flexibility in accomplishing their mission," said Larson. "It will allow the airfield to sustain operations safely, efficiently and with reduced chance for costly overhauls and damages to aircraft. With these repairs being accomplished now rather than later, the sustainability of the airfield to support airframes can be highlighted in discussions in the ongoing battle for funds in a constantly shrinking Air Force budget."