When a call comes in to the 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment flight, requesting a piece of equipment for an aircraft, the flight responds and delivers it.
However, it isn’t the call for AGE that prompts the flight into action – the delivery is actually the end result of their work.
“Most people think (the job) of an AGE guy is just whatever he hears on the radio, ‘deliver this, deliver that,’” said SrA. Jordon Holveck, who is deployed from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. “But honestly, in the radio silence we’re working all the time.”
The primary job of AGE flight airmen is to maintain the equipment they deliver.
“Every career field of a maintainer has their own job and priority,” said SrA. James Lockard, who is deployed from Holloman AFB, N.M. “Ours is to provide ground power to the aircraft so they can run their operational systems to make sure the plane is ‘greened’ up and ready to fly.”
“Our job is different from other maintainers because it doesn’t matter what the (AGE) unit is, we work on every aspect of the whole unit and many different types of units,” added Holveck, a Delta, Colo., native.
For AGE maintainers at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, “many different types of units” takes on a whole new meaning.
“At most bases they work on about 30 different types of AGE, from generators, to maintenance stands and more,” said MSgt. Jason Roberts, 380th EMXS AGE flight chief. “Here they work on over 100 different types.”
The reason for so many different types of AGE here is because of the variety of air frames used here at the Air Force’s only joint, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, tanker, fighter, and airborne command and control wing.
“The most common piece of AGE every aircraft needs is the generator,” said Roberts, who is also deployed from Mountain Home AFB. “Every air frame here needs a different kind of generator. Usually at the AGE mechanic’s home station they only work on the one type of generator for the air frame they are stationed with.”
This means that when the maintainers arrive, they are in learning mode and have to learn quickly so all the air frames here can complete their mission, said Roberts, a native of Reardan, Wash.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been this close to KC-10s,” Holveck said. “I’ve never seen the big air conditioners that they need until I first got here. We’re expected to just read the TO [technical order], figure it out and fix the equipment.”
The AGE technicians rely heavily on each other for combined knowledge and expertise, especially when troubleshooting issues on equipment they are unfamiliar with.
“The knowledge gained from the other people that work on that equipment is very crucial,” said Lockard, a native of Winnemucca, Nev. “We need to get the equipment pushed out so it’s aircraft ready. It’s nice to have multiple people from other bases to be able to help us out.”
Ultimately, the AGE flight’s mission is to ensure their equipment works for the aircraft to meet the wing’s mission.
“Without AGE, they wouldn’t be able to check their instruments, the flight controls – everything that would power the aircraft,” Lockard said. “They wouldn’t be able to do an operational check before a flight.”
Lockard said a perfect example of the flightline requiring even a small piece of AGE occurred here recently when a KC-10 needed a suspension change on one of its landing gears, which required a tripod jack.
“If (the tripod jack) wasn’t maintained, it wouldn’t have happened and that aircraft would have been down,” Lockard said.
It’s times like those when Lockard feels his time here is worth it. Roberts knows they achieve this success every day.
“These AGE rangers are ensuring the ground power that makes the air power is always ready,” Roberts said. “They are maintaining over 800 pieces and 100 different types of hydraulics, electronics, air compressors, lighting and air conditioning so they are ready to use every day, making our Air Force the best in the world.”