Air Force Tech Sergeant Andre Baskin has been equipping jet pilots for two decades but the F-35 had changed his job. Content courtesy of the Pensacola News Journal.
1. This supply room for Air Force F-35 pilots has a kind of digital atmosphere that seems a long way from the old days of handing out off-the-rack helmets and flight suits. Is it really that different?
Some of the flight suit fittings are computerized now. A machine measures the pilot’s head and is designed precisely for that one person and no one else. They get a much better fit than they did years ago.
2. The F-35 pilot’s helmet underscores the advances in the plane itself. What else besides the fit has been upgraded?
The helmet actually connects to the aircraft with a cable. The aircraft has sensors, so once it plugs in you can basically see what’s all around the aircraft. The pilots can see pretty much what the aircraft sees, pulled up on their visor, as opposed to looking all the way around and turning the heads around. So they can focus better.
3. The pilots say their flight apparel fits better than the gear they wore a few years ago. Is the Air Force’s tailoring improving?
They’re actually hooked up to a machine that measures them individually. And the equipment does fit them better.
4. Does all the new technology, like the harnesses that plug in and the helmets that let them look right through the plane also present more chances of glitches?
Everything is tested ahead of time. If they have problems, they let us know. There are Lockheed Martin technicians here at Eglin in the F-35 program to fix it.
5. Factory consultants who help high-tech customers with new systems are common in software companies and other industries, but there’s usually a limit on how long they’re around. What happens then?
Part of the ground crew’s job is to watch the Lockheed Martin technicians and learn from them. They’re teaching us the fixes and eventually we’ll be able to take over.