NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — As the desert sun rises over the Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. flightline, temperatures climb, topping off at 115 degrees.
Jets engines ignite and the heat emitted brings the already blazing temperatures to nearly 130 degrees.
In these grueling temperatures maintainers still only have one option, accomplish the mission by any means necessary.
The mission of the Airmen assigned to the 57th Maintenance Group is to bear the responsibility of ensuring that flying programs on Nellis AFB can accomplish their own missions at all times.
“The 57th Maintenance Group manages all of the aircraft and all of the Airmen who care for the aircraft in order to support the test and training missions of the 57th Wing,” said 1st Lt. Katherine McCarthy, 57th MXG executive officer. “We take care of everything so the pilots can fly day-in and day-out.”
Without the 57th MXG the pilots who visit Nellis AFB to train and receive advanced aerospace training wouldn’t leave the ground.
“You can’t have an aircraft without maintenance, you physically cannot do it,” said McCarthy. “We ensure airplanes are prepared so pilots can fly. It’s as basic.
“If you go and get a rental car, you want to know that that rental car has gas in it, that it doesn’t need oil or tires changed. You go, you get it, it’s yours and then you take it back, and you would expect them to handle everything. And if you’re the rental car company you have to manage which cars you give out. It’s a very similar concept.”
In addition to flying, the 57th MXG’s five assigned AMUs to Nellis ensure the job of loading and unloading munitions on the jets is accomplished.
“Day-to-day we maintain the jet’s armament system ready to go on missions,” said Airman 1st Class Sherly German, 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew member. “From proper loading to meticulously safing a munition, we make the pilot’s job that much easier; ready to fly as soon as they step.”
The loading starts early in the morning as the Airmen attend roll call to find what is needed of them that day and can vary based on what is needed for the mission.
“We are briefed on what specific job each of us are in charge of each day,” said German. “Our days are extremely busy as soon as we walk through the door. Whether it’s loading or maintenance there is always a lot to look forward to.”
The aspect of doing what is needed daily to accomplish the mission is what make Maintenance a difficult career path, but a rewarding one.
“I’m extremely proud of what I do,” said McCarthy. “Maintenance is a tough career field, but we support each other. The payback that you get is seeing an aircraft take off and watching it come back, knowing that you did something to get it in the air.
“Knowing we’re training people here to be the best in the Air Force, to go to combat units to teach them, so the entire Air Force can accomplish its mission. Maintainers are hardworking and I’m honored that I get to help them do what they need to do.”