New Reserve crew chief also sees ‘Spirit’ of KC-46

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Abigail Klein
  • 931st Air Refueling Wing

When Airman 1st Class Cuong Nguyen first worked on the KC-46 Pegasus engine as mechanic at Spirit AeroSystem more than six years ago, he didn’t realize it would also foreshadow his future occupation in the Air Force Reserve.


Nguyen graduated Air Force Basic Military Training in San Antonio last July.  It was shortly after his graduation that he learned that his job in the Air Force Reserve would circle back to his civilian profession when he was selected to be a KC-46 crew chief.


“When I found out I would be working on the KC-46, I was so excited because I knew the aircraft even though I had never seen the finished product at Spirit, “said Nguyen.


As part of his training as a future KC-46 crew chief for the 931st Maintenance Squadron, Nguyen is currently taking instruction at the first KC-46 mission ready airmen course at the Air Education and Training Command’s 373rd Training Squadron Detachment 8 here.  He is one of four Airmen, and the only Reservist in the class. 

The estimated 56-day MRA course utilizes a virtual maintenance trainer and hands-on experience to prepare trainees for their future career as a KC-46 crew chief.


“The course is designed to give KC-46 crew chiefs the skills to maintain the aircraft,” said, Staff Sgt. Heather McKinney, 373rd TRS Det. 8 military training leader.


This includes a 3D simulation software allows students to learn, test and explore the aircraft without leaving the classroom, allowing McConnell’s air refueling mission to continue while the students are able to learn at a sustainable pace.


While learning a new career field can be daunting for any Airman, especially on the newest aircraft in the Air Force inventory, Nguyen’s says his past experience as a mechanic on the KC-46 has been beneficial.


“I think that I am very fortunate to be in this position because when you build an aircraft, it’s totally different from maintaining it,” he said.  “I do know about the tools used to build it and some of the technical terminology so it does give me some confidence.”


So far, Nguyen’s favorite part of the course has been the hands-on portion and he looks forward to this future career when he actually gets to work on the KC-46 when he graduates from the course November 5.