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NASA Officials Turn To Air Force For Guppy Evaluation

NASA's Super Guppy sits at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., where it waits for a maintenance inspection by Air Force specialists. Project planners say the work should be completed by Aug. 22. NASA officials brought the unique aircraft to Tinker AFB because of the capability of Tinker's workforce to inspect and repair the large aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Debra Bennett)
by Danielle Gregory
72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Tinker AFB OK (SPX) Apr 28, 2008
NASA officials brought the Super Guppy -- a uniquely-designed aircraft used to transport cargo, including parts of the space shuttle program -- to Tinker AFB in mid-April so that maintainers here could inspect the aircraft and perform some repairs. According to NASA Chief Flight Engineer Henry Taylor, officials chose Tinker AFB because it has a great reputation for having lots of capabilities when it comes to doing significant maintenance.

"We wanted to go someplace where we could have the kind of expertise and support to support a one-of-a-kind airplane and Tinker has that," Mr. Taylor said.

Project planners here estimate it should take about 14,770 hours to inspect and fix the plane, which has never been fixed prior to this. That equates to an Aug. 22 goal of completing inspections and some repairs, with a drop dead date of Sept. 29, unless workers find something that requires extensive repairs.

Debra Bennett, lead Super Guppy project pre-planner, was part of a Tinker AFB contingent that visited NASA in February 2007 to discuss the Super Guppy.

"This is the first time the Air Force has gotten involved, as everything has been done by contractors," Ms. Bennett said. "Tinker AFB, in particular, was selected because we had so many different things we can do right here."

Super Guppy electrician Daniel Thompson agreed. "When it comes out of Tinker it should be capable of handling its duties for the next 10 years," he said.

NASA personnel will remain on site while base personnel work on the plane.

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