The 412th Maintenance Group held their Fourth Quarter Fighter Weapons Load Competition Jan. 6 to select the best fighter weapons load team for the final quarter of 2013.
Of the three teams that competed – the 411th, 445th, 461st Aircraft Maintenance Units – the team that took the distinct honor in this quarter’s competition consisted of Staff Sgt. Dustin Jones, Airman 1st Class Maurice Appleton and Airman 1st Class Briano Molinaro from the 445th AMU.
“Weapons load competitions are held on a quarterly basis culminating in the finale of the annual weapons load competition,” said Master Sgt. Joseph Ordway, 412th MXG weapons standardization superintendent. “Aircraft armament systems technicians have been competing in weapons load competitions dating back before the Korean War. These load competitions foster camaraderie by allowing the maintainers to showcase their unique skillset. The entire crew must function precisely as one entity in order to come out on top.”
Prior to the quarterly competition, each unit selects its representatives by reviewing load barn and flightline evaluation results throughout the quarter, according to Ordway.
“The competition consists of a uniform inspection for Dress and Appearance followed by a written examination testing the participant’s basic knowledge of loading weapons onto their respective aircraft,” Ordway said. “Additionally, the crews present a Composite Tool Kit and a thorough inspection of their tools and technical data is conducted. Finally, the load crew completes a weapons upload, usually consisting of a bomb and missile. The timed upload is evaluated for safety and reliability.”
Of all the AMUs that were invited to participate, the 411th AMU had to load an F-22 Raptor, the 445th AMU had to load an F-16 Falcon and the 461st AMU loaded an F-35 Lightning II.
“The experience level of this quarter’s participants ranged from one to 10 years,” added Ordway.
The winning load crew received a certificate, a one-day pass, as well as custody of the traveling Load Competition Championship Belt until the next quarterly competition. All of the quarterly winners will compete for the Load Crew of the Year Competition trophy which will take place Feb. 3, 2014.