What is all the hush about?
By Staff Sgt. Jorge Intriago, 169th Fighter Wing/Public Affairs
/ Published March 13, 2013
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- EASTOVER, S.C. - On McEntire Joint National Guard Base lies a building with a name as interesting as the building itself, that building is the hush house. It looks like a small hanger with a tube behind it. The hush house earns its name from what it keeps hidden within its walls; it's not hiding secrets, but harmful noise pollution created by a Pratt Whitney 229 Block 52 F-16 jet engine.
Airmen from the 169th Maintenance Squadron's propulsion unit, conduct jet engine test runs in the hush house. The hush house allows Airmen to operate and monitor the engine using a T-20 testing cab, where the mechanic is surrounded by instrument panels and computer monitors. The cab operator has throttle control of the engine which allows the mechanic to push the engine from idle to full afterburner, when two igniters light pure jet fuel on fire and push a cone of blue flame out the back of the engine. While the engine runs, maintainers watch gauges and computer screens to check for anything out of the ordinary.
"Engines are ran whenever there has been a major engine tear down, build up or a major component has been changed," said Master Sgt. Rick Morgan, senior engine mechanic. Block 52 engines are required to be maintained whenever a minor issue arises, whether it's a leak inspection or a routine check.
"The Block 52 engine is run through a diagnostics test similar to a car's fuel injector engine," said Morgan.
The hush house was created to work like a car muffler, to keep the noise down outside so the rest of the base can continue operations without interruption. However, it is a different story on the inside of the hush house. When Morgan pushes the throttle to full afterburner, the noise decibel requires maintenance personal to wear double hearing protection.
With the capability to run a standalone engine or house an F-16 Fighting Falcon, the hush house is an invaluable tool to the SCANG mission.
"We're very proud of the safety record we have," said Col. Michael Metzer, the 169th Maintenance Group commander. "Over 120,000 flying hours without a mishap, and a large portion of that significant accomplishment is directly attributed to the work that goes on in the Hush House. This facility allows us to completely test the engine so we can confidently install it in the jet, knowing it will safely serve there for a very long time. And that is invaluable to a single engine aircraft."