NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Everyday, Palm Springs, California native Madison Gilbert is a woman of faith. A true believer in the importance of Comprehensive Airman Fitness — the Spiritual, Mental, Social and Physical pillars — her first line of business to start the day is to imagine what the day will entail as she privately prays for her unit.
She then arrives to work early to prepare for the day. She reviews all that was done the day prior and writes notes on what she needs to ask or task to others, so that the unit can run as efficient as possible. She then meets with her unit to go over the current status and priorities, as well as the daily flying schedule, inspection results, and any other pertinent information for the day.
Capt. Madison Gilbert is the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-15E Strike Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge, or Strike AMU OIC for short. In this job, she is responsible for 16 F-15E aircraft and 170 maintainers.
“These maintainers are from six AFSCs (Air Force Specialty Codes), to include crew chiefs, weapons loaders, propulsion maintainers, avionics specialists, electro, environmental specialists, and supply personnel,” said Gilbert. “I ensure that our maintainers are given good direction and priorities daily, while simultaneously ensuring they have the right tools to be successful. We meet in the morning to go over the current status and priorities, as well as the flying schedule, inspection results, and any other pertinent information for the day.”
After her morning meetings, she heads to the headquarters to brief the unit’s status to leadership, and up-channel any unmet requirements or struggles they are facing.
“Leadership will advise me of any concerns or issues they foresee, and will help us with any problems we cannot solve at a lower level.” said Gilbert. “For the rest of the day, I figure out ways to make the unit and maintenance better than its current state.”
Due to the schedule constantly changing, fast-paced work environment, as well as the aircraft breaking; analyzing and fixing issues is a time-consuming and constant task.
“I am here to help my maintainers, so I do all kinds of tasks, from creating flyable schedules, to pushing depots to get our parts and equipment fixed, to planning morale events, to crafting retirement speeches.” said Gilbert.
As the OIC, Gilbert is in charge of the aircraft maintenance unit. She is entrusted with managing aircraft and leading the personnel who take care of them. If anything goes wrong within the unit, she is responsible, which is a great responsibility in and of itself.
Gilbert stated that she greatly relies on the senior NCOs to carry out the mission, as they are experts in their fields.
For Gilbert, her favorite thing about her job as OIC is participating and witnessing aircraft launches.
“Even though it isn’t my job, it allows me to see how my maintainers are doing and just makes me happy,” she said. “We have the coolest job on base, and I love to see them working hard to put sorties in the air.”
Gilbert has been at Nellis AFB for four years. She has held many job titles in her time here, such as the Aircraft Maintenance Field Training commander, F-22 AMU OIC, F-35 AMU OIC, and now the F-15E AMU OIC.
“Captain Gilbert is professional yet personable and the atmosphere she creates is one of teamwork and transparency,” said Maj. Heather Wooten, 757th AMXS commander. “She is a transformational leader. She becomes the type of leader her organization needs her to be.”
Gilbert stated, she works in a male-dominated career field, but professionalism and excellence in the Air Force surpass any disadvantage that minorities experience.
“I may have to ‘prove’ myself more in the beginning,” said Gilbert. “But, that never changes the way I do my job. It only changes the perspectives and thoughts of others.
“Additionally, I never know what to expect each day. A lot of my job is reactionary to whatever the maintainer’s need, so it is hard to prepare for some of the issues. Flexibility is key.”
Gilbert attributes her confidence and challenging of the status quo attitude to her parents. In high school, Gilbert participated in JROTC. She enjoyed the leadership and structure found in the program.
“My dad was a pool contractor and my mom was a computer programmer,” said Gilbert. ”I volunteered at a hospital for five years, working in the hospice, oncology, and maternity wards. My parents instilled in me a confidence that has allowed me to do the right thing in tough situations. They have encouraged me to put others before myself through their example.
“The chief master sergeant assigned to our unit encouraged me to apply to the Air Force Academy. I didn’t know what I was getting myself in to, but I wanted to try it out,” said Gilbert.” I attended the Academy and have loved being in the Air Force ever since.”
Gilbert will soon be moving to Randolph Air Force Base this summer. Until then she will continue to be inspired by watching her maintainers grow as well as seeing them lead and come up with brilliant ideas.