Col. Mark Fluker to step down as F-35 maintenance chief

Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 11:50 AM.

“This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said Wednesday. “There is no other place I’d rather be in the Air Force than right here.”

Building a program from scratch had its challenges.

Fluker was rushed to Eglin in August 2009 to serve as deputy commander of maintenance in advance of the arrival of the F-35s. That didn’t come for more than two years because of cost overruns and performance problems.

“It was very frustrating, but it turned out it was probably a good thing, all said and done,” he said.

The team was able to work through a lot of problems before the first aircraft arrived.

They pored over newly developed maintenance manuals and sent back corrections that would make the procedures safer and more efficient.

Several maintainers were shipped off to test units to learn about the jets.

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