View Full Version : Marines puzzle over pad

06-24-05, 05:48 AM
Marines puzzle over pad
Submitted by: MCAS Iwakuni
Story Identification #: 200562220512
Story by Lance Cpl. Lucas J. Blom

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan (June 20) -- CAMP FUJI, Japan — Marines From Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 completed the installation of the Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) pad here, June 20.

The VTOL pad is a 96-foot by 96-foot puzzle, which when pieced together create a solid surface for aircraft capable of vertical take off and landing to do so.

“Basically the VTOL is a surface for vertical take off and landing by mainly Harriers and Helos,” said Cpl. August Morlock, MWSS-171 expeditionary airfield services crewmember. “It gives them a location to get refueled or rearmed with ordnance.”

The AM-2 airfield matting is constructed of extruded hollow aluminum and comes in 12-foot and six-foot sections.

Each 12-foot piece weighs more than 140 pounds. The pieces are equipped with a tongue and groove locking system, which slides into place, making the VTOL pad extremely fast to incorporate into any battlefield.

The installation process began with MWSS-171 heavy equipment motor transportation Marines surveying and grading the land on the proposed site to lay the pad. In order for the pad to be certified by a Naval Air representative, which is required to allow aircraft to use the pad, the site must be within certain standards.

“With everything in the Marine Corps, there are certain standards that we have to meet in order to get the VTOL certified for use,” said Morlock. “Our standards say that the pad has to be within certain elevation requirements. If there is too much of a slope and the elevation is not right, then we can’t certify it.”

Unfortunately for the Marines of MWSS-171, the land did not cooperate and the elevation and slope standards could not be met for certification.

“The ground work here was great, (heavy equipment) did an outstanding job grading and working with the ground, but they weren’t able to get as thorough as they would have liked.”

Although they knew the VTOL pad would not be certified for use, the Marines of MWSS-171 were not deterred from installing the pad to get the training they came out here for.

“This is giving Marines from different fields an opportunity to learn a little bit about the VTOL, so if they ever encounter one in the real world they’ll be up to speed,” said Gunnery Sgt. William Westerman, MWSS-171 EAF chief. “These devil dogs caught on quickly. With the amount of people we had out here I thought it would have taken a lot longer to get done. Usually we have twice as many Marines installing.”

The matting was laid inside four hours, an extremely fast install time according to the EAF Marines, and then they began the final step of the process by anchoring the pad down.
Using 36 cruciform stakes pounded into the ground by a jackhammer, the pad was assured not to move even if a Harrier came in to refuel.

“Working with the VTOL out in the field is much more of an experience,” said Pfc. Troy Norman, MWSS-171 EAF crewmember. “You learn to use what Mother Nature gives you because most of the time you won’t have perfect ground to lay the matting on. You’ve got to get down on your hands and knees and move dirt where you need it. Basically you just learn to use what you’ve got and improvise.”