House of silence keeps Nellis, neighbors sheltered from noise

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Travis Edwards
  • Nellis Air Force Base Public Affairs
Being surrounded by noisy jets and performing engine runs all day can be grating to the nerves. But Nellis has a way to almost eliminate the noise coming from the noisy test - it's called the Hush House.

Hush Houses are used all around the Air Force. They are used to test, troubleshoot and evaluate uninstalled jet engines, all inside a near-soundproof building.

"We ensure flight safety of the engines prior to them being installed in the aircraft," said Master Sgt. Jon Dunn, NCO in charge of the jet-engine-test facilities (Hush House). "We also provide the flight line 24-hour coverage for high-powered engine runs, ensuring low noise levels that won't interfere with the local community."

The two facilities, run by nine service members and two civilians, are able to run the jet engines at the highest capacity to make sure there are no glitches in the engine's inner workings.

Along with all the tasks of keeping up-to-date with engine test, the Hush House encounters many challenges along the way. One of the tribulations it contends with is when the air-trim pads are closed by the 66th Rescue Squadron.

A trim pad is a slab of concrete with an anchored fixture in the ground to hook up an aircraft to, so it can accomplish a high-powered engine run.

The rescue squadron closes the open-air trim pads because they are located right next to them, and they use open communication microphones - and when you have an aircraft running at full power, it can be difficult to hear what is going on around them.

"If the trim pads are closed, an aircraft needing to do an engine run will have to move to the Hush House," said Sergeant Dunn. "That usually isn't a problem, unless we are running an uninstalled engine on the stand." He said the problem with that is it would require them to stop the engine that is currently running, tear the stand down, push the engine over and then tow the jet into the Hush House.

"To do all of that, it takes a minimum of an hour, and for a 20-minute engine run, it isn't logical to stop production on the engine when the aircraft could be set up on the trim pad and complete his test run in 30 minutes or less," said the master sergeant.

But their biggest challenge is meeting the needs of the engine shop and the flight line at the same time.
They overcome that by creating a workable solution - prioritizing their work load in conjunction with mission needs.

Aside from the challenges faced daily, the personnel from the Jet Engine Test Facility have a daily regimen of safety. Like just about any other squadron or flight, the Hush House personnel start their day off with a role call. "Role call is when our troops get informed about the events and priorities to come for the day," said Tech Sgt. Richard Bush, assistant NCOIC of the test facility.

After roll call, they do a foreign-object-damage walk over all air trim pads - then start on inspections; whether it's a daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annual or annual inspection, they make sure the two houses are serviceable and ready to employ.

Being able to see all of the hard work being put into the engine pays off when seeing it work, as the engine produces the thrust on its stand.

"The favorite part of my job is being in the Hush House troubleshooting the engine - that way we can find the problems before that engine is airborne," said Staff Sgt. Carl Adee, jet engine mechanic for the Hush House.

When the day is beginning, and you think to yourself, "Oh great, here comes a bunch of loud and obnoxious test runs," you can rest assured the sound will be minimal, thanks to the 57th Component Maintenance Squadron Hush House crew.