APU Problem Makes Flight Even More Memorable
Senior Master Sgt.
Anthony Trenga won't soon forget what he was doing November 6 at
4:15 pm. The in-flight refueling technician from Pittsburgh, PA
reached a significant milestone in his military career at this
precise moment, hitting 10,000 flying hours in a KC-135
With more than 30 years of flying under his belt, the deployed
guardsman's time in the military exceeds the average age of most
airmen on this base.
"Tony's the only person I've known who's ever flown 10,000 hours
in a refueler," said Maj. Jason Luhn, a 171st Air Refueling Wing
pilot. "I was just thrilled to be on the same crew with him when he
hit this great accomplishment."
Trenga (shown above, right) hit his 10,000th hour while flying
with pilot Luhn and aircraft commander Capt. Walter Ransom. All
three airmen are members of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard,
and fly as a cohesive crew with the 340th Expeditionary Air
Refueling Squadron in Southwest Asia.
"Guardsmen bring immense experience to the fight," said Lt. Col.
Bryan Crutchfield, 340th EARS commander, commenting on how many of
today's guardsmen have served in several conflicts. "This flying
experience benefits the squadron as a whole, and Tony's years of
service and corporate knowledge demonstrate this perfectly."
Trenga's experience came in handy on the flight in which he
surpassed 10,000 flying hours.
Shortly after takeoff, the crew realized the cabin wasn't
becoming pressurized. The problem was traced to an auxiliary power
unit door that wasn't secure.
"If the cabin doesn't become pressurized, we can't reach our
cruise altitude," Ransom said. "And that's where the refueling
takes place -- at the higher altitudes."
The crew had two options: dump the gas and lose a combat sortie
or try to remedy the problem as quickly as possible. Trenga chose
"The issue was timing," said the sergeant. "The more quickly we
fixed it, the more quickly we could move back into the fight." The
crew descended the aircraft to 10,000 feet so it could be
depressurized. Once the aircraft was depressurized, Trenga managed
to cycle the door open and closed among noisy winds whipping
through the APU.
It wasn't an easy feat. The amplified noise level was also
distracting with all the air rushing out though the APU.
"Imagine driving 300
mph in a car and having a window open with wind whipping around,"
said Ransom. "That's what Tony was working in."
Despite the adverse conditions, Trenga successfully closed the
door and the aircraft flew on to perform its role in Operation
"By resolving the problem and continuing with the flight, Tony
and the crew saved several more combat missions that day,"
Crutchfield said. "Every KC-135 mission in the AOR is tied to
saving lives on the ground -- either directly or indirectly -- so
Sergeant Trenga made some very critical decisions on the fly."
Although his service in Southwest Asia has certainly been a
highlight in his military career, Trenga has many other memories of
The 53-year-old airman has served in Operations Desert Shield
and Desert Storm, Allied Force, and a host of other Air Force
missions around the world. He's flown on five different
stratotanker airframes, including the KC-135 models A, Q, E, R and
T. But his initial entry into the service wasn't in operations.
"My goal all along was to fly," he said. "But they rejected that
notion in basic training because of my eyesight, and I spent the
next four years loading bombs."
Fortunately, Trenga was able to crosstrain into the flying world
as a boom operator, where he's remained ever since.
"I'm passionate about my job," he said. "It's a blast, and I
wouldn't trade it for the world. Hands down, it's the best enlisted
job in the Air Force."
(Aero-News salutes Maj. Ann P. Knabe, 379th Air
Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs)