UNDISCLOSED LOCATION — It’s the minute details of tasks that make what Airmen do so vital to accomplishing their mission. For the Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight, these details have a profound impact on flightline operations each day.
“We support, maintain and repair aerospace ground equipment,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas, AGE assistant floor lead. “We support anything (maintainers) need to work on, maintain and test the aircraft while it is on the ground.”
Affectionately known on the flightline as the “Jiffy Lube” Airmen who put air in tires and change oil, there is more to AGE than most realize.
“We provide the vital support to the flightline to sustain all the operations that go on out there,” said Master Sgt. Steven, AGE flight chief. “Whether it is stands for people to do maintenance on the aircraft or generators to be able to power up systems, AGE plays an integral role.”
The AGE flight provides equipment such as hydraulic test stands, diesel generators, gas turbine generators, air conditioning units, heaters, jacks, maintenance stands, nitrogen carts, lights and more to support six airframes here, as well as transient aircraft. The AGE flight is responsible for 542 pieces of equipment and averages 4,800 equipment dispatches, 250 maintenance actions and 110 periodic and phase inspections every month.
“AGE maintainers are jacks of all trades, master of none,” said Steven, currently deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany and a native of New Bethlehem, Penn. “We maintain electrical systems, hydraulic systems and pneumatic systems, but we really aren’t masters of any one system. We kind of have to know a little bit about everything in this career field, because you work on such a diverse amount of equipment.”
Inspections are a key component of preventive maintenance. The meticulous processes require AGE Airmen to exhibit keen attention to detail to identify potential underlying issues before they render equipment unfit for use.
“When inspecting, we look for any defects with the equipment that affects serviceability,” said Senior Airman Michael, AGE journeyman, currently deployed from Utah’s Hill Air Force Base and a native of Burleson, Texas. “We have to follow certain guidelines and steps set up by our technical data to check certain items required for that particular inspection. For major (inspections), we have to inspect pretty much every little detail.”
It is important to do things right the first time, added Nicholas, currently deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, and a native of Geraldine, Ala.
The AGE flight here is made up of Airmen from nine Air Force bases and three major commands that work together to contribute to the overall mission.
“Each person brings a unique talent to the mission,” said Steven. “Some are very familiar with diesel engines and some are more familiar with gas turbine generators, but all together they bring a lot of knowledge to this base that everyone can learn from.”
The effects that Operation Inherent Resolve has had on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/Da’esh proves that both operational and support roles are critical to success of OIR. Iraqi and Kurdish security forces ground operations, supported by Coalition airstrikes, have stalled ISIL advances in Iraq and impeded the group’s ability to gain control of contested territory. In some cases, Coalition airstrikes have enabled ISF/KSF to reclaim lost territory. Without timely, technical ground support, projecting airpower would be impossible.
“We supported an F-22 maintenance recovery team as well as a B-1B MRT here, where we had to convert some generators to help get that plane off the ground,” said Steven. “We also had a staff sergeant who rewired a burnt-up diesel generator and another staff sergeant who rebuilt a universal maintenance stand that had been broken for six months. Both pieces of equipment are now operational and working out on the flightline.”
“All of the hard work my Airmen put in helps get these airplanes off the ground and win the good fight,” added Steven.
These hard-working Airmen leave no doubt that flightline operations, like a fine wine, are better with AGE.