Idea nets AMXS Airman $10,000

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Master Sgt. Barry Buchmiller, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was just looking to make good use of a part that was going to be turned into scrap metal.

While Sergeant Buchmiller was a member of the 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 12, he found out that the squadron was discarding an old nose gear trainer because the squadron was in the process of updating the piece.

The trainer was used to help Airmen learn how to change the wheels on the nose landing gear assembly, which supports the nose of the aircraft during landings and takeoffs.

"I figured why throw away a perfectly good part when you can make a trainer out of it?" Sergeant Buchmiller said.

After coming up with a plan to turn the scrap piece into two mobile nose wheel trainers that simulate the identical piece of the aircraft, he enlisted some friends at the maintenance squadron's metals technology shop to help him modify and cut up the pieces to assemble the trainers.

Sergeant Buchmiller figured Airmen battling frigid temperatures out on the flightline at other bases would prefer to train in a warm hangar instead, he said.

Sergeant Buchmiller then put the finished trainers on C-17 Globemaster III flights with extra cargo space that were already bound for Dover Air Force Base, Del., and Travis Air Force Base, Calif.

The crew at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., who was set to receive the trainer was so excited to get the equipment, they drove down to Dover to pick it up themselves, he said.

In addition to providing Airmen with a warmer place to train, Sergeant Buchmiller also won $10,000 for his idea.

He received the $10,000 check from the Air Force's Innovative Development through Employee Awareness program, an incentive program established to recognize Airmen for their approved ideas that benefit the government by streamlining processes or improving productivity and efficiency, said IDEA program manager Staff Sgt. Angelique Snyder, 62nd Mission Support Squadron.

Sergeant Buchmiller not only earned money for himself, he helped the Air Force save some money.

By freeing up the aircraft from ground training, Sergeant Buch-miller's idea will save the Air Force almost $1.4 million in the first year alone, said Sergeant Snyder. It will also save 176 aircraft hours per year, she said.

Sergeant Buchmiller is the first $10,000 award winner McChord has had in nearly two years, said Sergeant Snyder.

Sergeant Buchmiller said he wasn't even going to submit his idea for the project, but after talking with his superiors he decided to do so.

"I thought, 'If I get 200 bucks I'll be happy'," he said.

When he was notified of the $10,000 amount, Sergeant Buchmiller said he was speechless. 

"What do you say?" he said. "I think my wife was more excited than I was."

That is after he takes the guys from the metals technology shop out to dinner, Sergeant Buchmiller said.

As for the IDEA program, Sergeant Snyder hopes the big payout for Sergeant Buchmiller will inspire more Airmen to be innovators.

"Instead of walking around kicking the carpet and complaining about something, tell me a better way to do it," she said. "It's a really good program. I wish more people would submit ideas. I hope this will help."