Since the introduction of the first crew chief, Charles Edward Taylor, who built the engine used in the Wright Flyer and helped make the first recorded human-powered flight possible, the aircraft mechanic has played an invaluable part through the advancement of aviation over the past 110 years.
Here at Edwards, that instrumental role continues today, which is why the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron honored 16 dedicated crew chiefs during a recognition ceremony in Hangar 1810 June 14. The ceremony marked a milestone that coincided with the squadron’s recent acquisition of its first F-35 Lightning II aircraft specifically assigned for operational test and evaluation.
“It was only fitting that we take the time to recognize this important role and those of all aircraft maintainers and to recognize the accomplishments and milestone of becoming Air Combat Command’s first selected dedicated crew chiefs on the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft,” said Lt. Col. Darrin Dronoff, 31st TES Logistics and Test Management director. “Likewise, they also represent all of the other maintainers across the 31st TES that work so hard behind the scenes to support this incredible aircraft. Finally, it also reaffirms the bond of trust between the pilot and the crew chiefs that has been in place since the early days of aviation.”
Of the 16 DCCs, each crew chief was presented with a specially-designed, tail number patch and squadron patch.
“Each crew chief has demonstrated their skills over several years and completed an in-depth certification program. The top candidates were then selected by their leadership to become dedicated crew chiefs and assistant dedicated crew chiefs to the squadron’s recently acquired F-35s,” said Dronoff. “The best of the best become the team assigned to the squadron flagship, aircraft tail number AF5004.”
In addition to the presentation of patches, each DCC had their name stenciled on their assigned aircraft, which marked a significant moment in their career.
“After only being in the Air Force for five years, being chosen to be one of the first operational test Assistant DCCs was an honor,” said Senior Airman Renard Edwards, 31st TES dedicated crew chief. “When I first chose to join the world’s greatest Air Force, I never thought I would be making Air Force history. The ceremony made me feel like I made the right decision five years ago and I will always cherish that feeling and memory.”