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.


 
 

 

Luke welcomes Nurse Advice Line

Remember that moment? The moment you thought you had something medically wrong with you but didn’t know exactly what it was? After a few Web searches, you find yourself on WebMD and are questioning whether you have the least worrying of possible diagnoses or the worst — cancer or even death. To help patients save...
 
 
141008-F-HT977-005

Unaccompanied housing to be upgraded

Funds have arrived from Air Education and Training Command for unaccompanied housing to use to take care of Airmen in the dorms, from reconstruction of dorms to fixing a door knob. “With these funds we are able to maintain do...
 
 

News Briefs October 24, 2014

Notice to claimants In accordance with Air Force Instruction 34-511, paragraph 3.1.5, notice is hereby given that Airman 1st Class Wheeler Nichols is deceased. The undersigned has been appointed summary court officer for the purpose of estate settlement in accordance with AFI 34-511. All persons having claims for or against the estate should call Lt....
 

 
141015-F-BI299-011

Speed mentoring hustles info to Airmen

Staff Sgt. Brianne Brown, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament technician, mentors Senior Airman Jose Resto-Sifuentes, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, on the topic of “setting yourself apart” at...
 
 
000000-F-XX000-888

Thunderbolts play role in energy awareness

October: Energy Action Month October is Energy Action Month, an Air Force-wide effort to empower Airmen to play a key role in achieving energy goals and fostering a culture of energy awareness. The Air Force is focusing on ener...
 
 
DT_141007-F-BI157-527

Operation Enduring Training: EOD Airmen get full agenda

Chief Master Sgt. William Ewing, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight chief, and Staff Sgt. Michael Garrison, 56th CES EOD training coordinator, brief the Airmen on the preparation for a life-like exp...
 




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