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Boxed and ready to roll

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

America’s greatest inventor, Thomas Edison, had this mindset, and changed the world as we know it. This mentality is engrained in today’s Airmen as we strive to keep the U.S. Air Force the greatest Air Force in the world.

“I believe all members of the Air Force should be aware of what they can do to save money,” said Charles Wellman, the 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron wood worker supervisor. “So often, an Airman will say, ‘It doesn't matter what I do, I'm only the little guy in the whole scope of things.’

“I say, turn off the lights,” added Wellman. “Turn off your monitor. Truly be a good steward of our own taxpayer dollars.”

The Air Force has implemented many programs over the years aiming to save taxpayers’ money. These proposals are oftentimes created by the Airmen who serve today -- Airmen just like Wellman, and just like you.

In order to support Whiteman’s mission of providing strategic deterrence and global strike at anytime … any place, there is a fleet of aircraft tires in storage.

On a $2.2 billion aircraft, these tires are not cheap. Each main tire costs nearly $30,000.

There is a heat shield on every one of these tires within the rim.

In the past, these tires have been stored in a metal housing where each rim leaned against a support beam that unknowingly was causing damage to the heat shield. When this heat shield was damaged, it cost the Air Force between $2,000 and $4,000 to repair, averaging $110,000 at any given time in order to make the fleet deployable. In addition to the price, it takes between 12 and 18 man hours to fix each tire, depending on the extent of the damage.

After a recent inspection, it was found that some B-2 wheels in storage have been unserviceable since 2013.

This discovery prompted Wellman to begin building a custom prototype for a new, functional home for each tire.

“The solution to this issue is simple and eliminates 100 percent of any possible damage and man hours applied to the mated tire of its heat shield,” said Wellman.

Each crate costs about $700 to build and can house four main tires, as well as six nose tires. The way the tires fit inside of the crate, there is no room for damage to the heat shield or any other components. These crates have a one-time investment of about 16 man hours with two personnel to create, saving the Air Force thousands of dollars. Most importantly, the crates are deployable and make the tires ready to ship at a moment’s notice.

The Air Force at large is adopting this strategic plan and is taking the lead for mass production of a long-term solution, which may involve Wellman’s model made with a lightweight metal.

Now, when an Airman searches for the technical order to build a crate for these tires, Wellman’s custom blue print will appear.

After 26 years of honorable service, and more than 10 years as a Department of Defense civilian, Wellman is still looking for ways to practice his pledge of excellence and improve the Air Force every day.

“We have to serve our country to truly understand and appreciate how great our nation is,” said Wellman. “Greatness will come from simply turning off the lights!”