JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va — A team of instructors traveled from the Ogden Air Logistics at Hill Air Force Base to conduct weapon system training with Airmen assigned to the 1st Maintenance Squadron non-destructive inspection unit at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Feb. 11-15.
The instructors travel nationwide to teach new Airmen in the NDI career field specific weapon-system techniques and applications. Touring not only improves readiness across the service, but also gives instructors a chance to gauge proficiency within the NDI career field, assess overall training needs and ensure knowledge is retained.
“Sometimes NDI journeyman, especially new Airmen, are only utilizing one method because duty stations have different missions,” said Ward Fong, 809th Maintenance Support Squadron NDI program manager at Hill AFB. “One of the skills they are learning this week is not something they would need to execute here at Langley, but we need to keep them ready for their next tour that may require them to have these other skills at the ready.”
According to Fong, the instructors’ prime focus is on the newest Airmen because this is also an opportunity to teach them more detailed training that is specific to the weapon-system data they will analyze daily.
“This training will help them remain proficient in all aspects,” Fong said. “It’s good for us to interact with them early on so they kind of get an idea of what the expectations are for their specific weapon system as well as some applications they haven’t yet executed.”
Some of the hands-on training the Airmen received was with an F-22 Raptor probe kit and ultra-sonic inspection kits. The NDI journeymen use the kits to map out damage for repairs and are then tasked with providing engineers reliable assessments which can then be applied toward mitigating future damage.
“We need to be mission-ready,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jacob Boer, 1st MXS NDI journeyman. “People have faith in us, as inspectors, to be on top of our game and make sure that the jets are safe to carry out its mission without endangering the operators.”
Boer explained the importance of NDI journeymen’s attention to detail when it comes to performing inspections.
“There may be parts that wear down over the years so we need to have the skills to identify even the smallest potential hazards,” Boer said. “There can be dire consequences if duties are not performed properly. Unseen damage or wear could have a very significant and widespread impact.”
Boer said this training course taught him new ways of applying techniques he is currently using and also helped him recognize which skills he should practice more often.
“Having career program leaders pass their knowledge to us is invaluable,” Boer said. “We can now approach tasks in new ways and analyze with greater detail. Courses like these will keep us mission-ready so we can get those jets up in the air quickly and safely.”
(75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs contributed to this article.)