April 24, 2008 (by A1C David Carbajal) - A load crew from the 525th Aircraft Maintenance Unit won their first load crew competition on April 18, 2008 since their reactivation at Elemendorf AFB.
The 525th AMU load crew 1 carry an F-22A Raptor weapon to the side weapon bay during the Load Crew Competition April 18th, 2008. The 525th AMU load crew one won the Load Crew Competition. This competition was the load crew's first since the fighter squadron's activation on October 29th, 2007. [USAF photo by A1C. Matt Owens]
The 525th load crew competed against their new friendly rivals, the 90th AMU and the 19th AMU load crews.
"These competitions are not just about who finishes first," said Staff Sgt. Mike Riley, a 525th load crew team chief. "It's about who can do it correctly the quickest."
The teams begin by doing "safe for maintenance inspections" of the aircraft to ensure it is safe for all loading procedures.
"After we check the F-22 for safety issues, we continue with the aircraft preparation," the team chief said.
The aircraft preparation includes adjusting the rails and racks of the bays for weapons loading. After all racks and rails are prepared, the crew activates the auxiliary power unit, which is necessary to receive all of the technical data from the aircraft.
In this competition, the load crews must arm their respective aircraft with four weapons while being evaluated by trainers of the 3rd Maintenance Operations Squadron who grades a member of the team on all steps and procedures.
"These evaluators are the best and the brightest of all loaders," said Sergeant Riley. "They ensure that we are loading the jet exactly how we are supposed to."
The Air Force's newest fighter aircraft must be loaded with two missiles into the side weapons bays and two in the main weapons bays.
"We start by loading the two side weapons bays of the aircraft," he added. "These weapons are hand carried by the crew to their bay."
The two weapons for the main weapons bays are a little different, he said.
After unstrapping the weapons from the munitions trailer, the teams load them onto the bomb lift truck, or the "jammer," in preparation to load them into the main weapons bay.
Prior to the event, Sergeant Riley encourages his team to use a classic act of focus and awareness.
"I tell my team to meditate or visualize what they're going to do and how they are going to do it," the 525th weapons loader said. "These competitions are just like other sporting events, preparation is the key!"