Local

September 14, 2012

Luke maintainers getting future experience first-hand

Senior Airman Dominique Wilson, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, receives a quick hand shake from the pilot before they begin the preflight checks of an F-16 Fighting Falcon on the 33rd Fighter Wing flightline Sept. 6 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Approximately 36 Luke Air Force Base Airmen, assigned to the 309th AMU, maintain four F-16s used as chase aircraft for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter training and to maintain pilot proficiency. Airmen from Luke’s various F-16 maintenance squadrons have been rotating to Eglin to support this mission since January 2011.

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — When the Air Force announced Luke Air Force Base as the next training location for F-35A Lightning IIs, maintainers temporarily assigned here began to feel like they were already in the future environment.

Since January 2011, F-16 Fighting Falcons have been on “loan” at the 33rd Fighter Wing from their Phoenix-area home.

The F-16s arrived six months in advance of the first F-35A delivery last year which helped bring a sense of operations back to the wing where the fresh paint smell was still lingering in each of the newly constructed hangars for Air Force, Navy and Marines. Before Luke’s presence, ramp space wasn’t used to generate aircraft operations since the wing transitioned to Air Education and Training Command in October 2009.

“Daily operations are pretty much the same, but just on a smaller scale,” said Master Sgt. Dana Clapp, production superintendent for approximately 36 Airmen maintaining the four jets from the 309th Aircraft Maintenance Unit. “They prepare our aircraft for the day’s flying, which mostly consists of servicing, inspecting and documenting all maintenance on the aircraft forms and the computer into our data system.”

One maintainer volunteered to come to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., this summer for a glimpse of America’s next generation fighter at the military’s home for F-35 pilot and maintenance training.

“I really wanted to see the F-35 program and get a chance to be a part of the future of the Air Force,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Mulford, 309th AMU F-16 dedicated crew chief. “The support we give 33rd pilots and our sister branches to continue their operations and training makes this a unique experience. Many times you only work within your unit when supporting operations.”

The maintainer said during his 90 days here he can see his role in generating sorties as an important part of the joint strike fighter training mission.

“I am absolutely excited for the F-35 to arrive at Luke. It will be an excellent facility to train the new pilots flying the Lightning II,” Mulford said, who currently is a part of AETC’s F-16 pilot and maintainer training mission team. “I believe that Luke has gained an idea of what it will take to support the duel mission of the two airframes working together on one installation.”

Although he has only been in the military for eight years, the sergeant said he has experienced transferring F-16 assets to other bases around the globe during his four years at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., and then part of an international team at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in the U.K.

“We come from multiple squadrons with a wide variety of career fields,” Clapp said. “There are crew chiefs, avionics, electricians, weapons, sheet metal, egress, metal technicians, fuel specialists and a munitions specialist as a first sergeant. We receive a lot of support from the 33rd Maintenance Group and from the other units on base. They are always asking what they can do to help.”

The superintendent said the overall impression Luke Airmen give is they enjoy their time and would gladly come back. Some have done as many as three tours to Eglin in the last year. The tour is dependent on the size of their shop and the chance to give another maintainer the experience. Their average time on temporary assignment is two months.

Mulford hopes his return will be as a student earning joint strike fighter maintenance certification as a few of his colleagues have.

“I want to be an F-35 maintainer; it would be a privilege to be a part of the airframe that will be the spearhead of the tactical aircraft world,” he said.

The maintainer said he also gets to see the local area and experience what Eglin has to offer its personnel. Prior to his arrival, Mulford only knew he was going to be part of an aircrew that provides chase aircraft. They also help ensure proficiency and airworthiness for fighter pilots who are slated to be the initial F-35 cadre at the school house on Eglin.

The biggest challenge Mulford and other Arizona Airmen have experienced so far is Mother Nature.

“Working around the ever-changing weather here is different than Luke where it is almost always sunny and hot, but adapting to the environment is something maintainers are used to,” Clapp said.

What also makes working at the joint strike fighter integrated training center unique are the variety of uniforms on the 33rd FW flightline — military services, contracted logistics support and civilians.

“Partnership has been a core theme of the military’s F-35 Lightning II joint program,” said Col. Andrew Toth, 33rd FW commander. “Certainly in the experience of standing up the wing and completing the check ride myself, I’ve seen the process firsthand and know the importance of the team concept. Success of the program for our nation depends on our communication with each wingman on the joint strike fighter team to fly, fight and win.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Airman 1st Class 
PEDRO MOTA

MMA ramps up combat training

Airman 1st ClassPEDRO MOTA Team Ill Brasil brings a new style of martial arts to the base. The Luke Air Force Base Bryant Fitness Center now offers discipline specific martial arts training Monday through Friday at the Combat T...
 
 

DUI in Arizona: You can’t afford it

Arizona has some of the toughest drunken driving laws in the United States. The average overall cost of a DUI in the state of Arizona is around $10,000. Crazy, right? Ten thousand dollars may seem hard to swallow at first, but first time offenders often find themselves paying considerable unforeseen expenses throughout the course of...
 
 

Is being good, good enough?

In today’s Air Force can you settle with just being good? I say, “No.” With the Air Force executing the deepest force cuts since the end of the cold war with programs such as the Quality Force Review Board and the Enlisted Retention Board, what you do and how well you do it matters more...
 

 

Your career – as easy as 1, 2, 3

Oftentimes at retirements we hear the phrase, “This is one chapter in my life.” No matter what our goal is, whether it is to serve for four years or 20 years, each of us will leave the Air Force at some point. This leads to the question, “What does it take to have an Air...
 
 
Tech. Sgt.
LOUIS VEGA, Jr.

Reserve recruiter has heart of bull

Tech. Sgt.LOUIS VEGA, Jr. Master Sgt. Stanley Iakopo, Air Force Reserve Command recruiter with the 944th Fighter Wing, puts Joe Vigil, pro fighter and assistant trainer, in a hold while training at Peraza Boxing and Mixed Marti...
 
 

News Briefs July 18, 2014

Base-wide exercise The 56th Fighter Wing will conduct an active-shooter exercise Aug. 15. The exercise will include military and local, county and state law enforcement, and fire departments. On and off-base residents should expect traffic disruptions, gate closures or delays, and interruptions of customer service operations. Expect to see simulated explosions, smoke, role players depicting...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin