ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- The 48th Fighter Wing Golden Bolt sits on the flightline as a piece of Foreign Object Debris Aug. 30, 2012. Each month the golden bolt is placed somewhere on the flightline. If anyone finds the bolt and picks it up, they receive a day pass amongst other prizes from the 48th FW FOD Prevention Incentive Program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Connor Estes)
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Tech. Sgt. Jacob Elliott, 48th Maintenance Operations Squadron wing Foreign Object Debris monitor, checks his vehicle’s tire for pebbles at a FOD check point on the flightline Aug. 30, 2012. Some of the measures to prevent FOD include check points around the flightline where drivers stop and conduct a FOD check on their vehicle’s tires, vehicles with FOD magnets, vehicles with FOD mats and airfield sweepers driven by civil engineer squadron personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Connor Estes)
by Senior Airman Connor Estes
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
8/30/2012 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- I was driving out to a photo job a few weeks ago and noticed a vehicle on the flightline with the letters FOD on it, which stands for Foreign Object Debris.
After crossing the runway, I happened to glance down and saw a huge bolt out of the corner of my eye laying on the edge of the flightline. I turned and noticed the FOD vehicle was coming back towards me and thought, I'm sure he'll see the bolt. Then I heard a small voice from inside me say, 'What if he doesn't see the bolt and it gets swept up inside an aircraft engine, causes a huge wreck and hurts somebody?'
I would never be able to live with myself. So to please my conscience I stopped my vehicle, ran to the flightline to pick up the bolt and started to wave down the FOD vehicle. I couldn't get over how big this bolt was, so I felt like I was at least doing my part as a good Airman.
As the FOD vehicle approached, I told the sergeant driving that I had found FOD for him and tried to give him the bolt. I was shocked when Tech. Sgt. Jacob Elliott said, "Congratulations, you found the golden bolt!" I think the 48th Maintenance Operations Squadron Wing FOD monitor was even more surprised when I asked, "What's the golden bolt?"
"The Golden Bolt is just one part of our FOD incentive program," said Elliott. "The purpose of it is to encourage FOD prevention and raise FOD awareness. Each month the Golden Bolt is placed somewhere on the flightline and whoever discovers it is rewarded with a day pass, a Base Exchange gift card and a certificate from the wing's vice commander."
According to Elliott a lot of people have the potential to access an area used by our aircraft, but not everyone is going to have the knowledge of FOD or the mindset to stop and remove something that could potentially cause damage to the aircraft.
"This is why FOD awareness and prevention is important. In your case though, you did the right thing and stopped to remove the FOD from the taxiway," said Elliott.
FOD can include pebbles, nuts and bolts but sometimes you'll never know what you might find on the flightline.
"You would be surprised at the type of items that make their way to the flightline," said Elliott. "Somebody found a cooking spatula on a taxiway before."
Capt. Brett VanderPas, 48th FW safety officer, says FOD prevention is important, because even something as small as a screw can bring down an aircraft or prevent it from accomplishing its mission. It can also cost the Air Force a lot of money in repairs on the aircrafts.
"To this date we have had fourteen FOD incidents which have totaled $437,072.46," said Elliott. "Four of the 14 FOD incidents are still open, so the total cost will rise once we assess all of the damage."
Preventive measures must be in place to have an effective FOD program. Elliott outlines some of the measures that take place here on Lakenheath.
"Within the maintenance group, FOD walks are conducted daily before the first flight of the day," Elliott said. "They are also conducted after the termination of high winds or heavy rain. We are planning on a wing FOD walk to be conducted in the beginning of January. Every squadron on base will participate in it and the goal is to raise FOD awareness."
VanderPas added some of the other measures in place for checking for FOD are check points around the flightline where vehicles stop and conduct a FOD check on their tires, FOD magnets installed on some of the vehicles that drive on the flightline, FOD mats that get pulled around to collect any FOD on the ground and the airfield sweepers driven by civil engineer squadron personnel help keep the flightline free of debris.
Elliott is also working to have FOD awareness signs installed at the entrances of the industrial crossing over sierra taxiway, which is crossed by privately-owned vehicles.
Maintenance and aircrew are not the only ones who need knowledge in FOD prevention, Elliott said. It is also necessary to inform those who have a smaller foot print on an active runway. Individuals who have a supporting role, such as medical personnel, facility repair workers or even a photographer from the public affairs office should be aware of the dangers of FOD.
"Everyone has the opportunity to help in preventing FOD," said Elliott. "You don't have to be an aircraft maintainer to play an effective role in protecting our equipment and people. The mission depends on the acts of each and every one of us. What we do today has an impact on tomorrow, keeping the airfield and base free of FOD will help us in ensuring our success for years to come."
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Public Affairs Office
This webpage is maintained by the 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office. For questions about what services we provide, contact us at:
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
APO AE 09461-5203
The public affairs office is unable to redirect calls or provide phone numbers. If searching for a phone number on base, please call the base operator.
Calling Base Operator from the continental U.S.:
Comm: 011 44 1638 521 110
Calling Base Operator from within England:
Comm: 01638 521 110