October 8, 2009 (by SSgt. Phillip Butterfield) - When an F-16 Fighting Falcon lands with a mechanical problem, it cannot fix itself. Repairs can only be completed by a group of trained professionals dedicated to excellence in all they do.
The 14th AMU maintains block 50 F-16s, ensuring aircraft are war ready at a moments notice at Misawa AB. [USAF photo by SSgt. Samuel Morse]
Enter the 14th Aircraft Maintenance Unit -- during the month of August, personnel proved they were the unit for the job, garnering a 90.9 percent fully-mission-capable rate.
Aircraft maintenance starts when the aircraft finishes its sortie and is taxied into a parking spot. At this time, a chain of events unfolds that incorporate the specialties found in the avionics, crew chief, weapons, support and supply flights that return the aircraft to service.
"Well-orchestrated maintenance is the lifeblood of what we do," said Capt. Michael Eberl, 14th AMU officer in charge. "Samurai maintenance is almost at the top of its game; we have hit our stride and have not stopped."
After the plane lands, the pilot informs the production supervisor of any problems experienced during the flight. Next, the production supervisors pull together the flightline expeditors, who are the leaders of the different maintenance specialties required to fix whatever issue the aircraft may have. The appropriate expeditor for the failing system will gather trained Airmen with their tools, parts and any other equipment required to fix the problem and return the aircraft to service.
"It's impressive to watch the maintainers work, because the 14th AMU has a great team here, and they're finely tuned with no wasted steps in their maintenance," said Captain Eberl.
Doing quality maintenance equates to keeping the aircraft in the sky accomplishing the Air Force's mission -- to fly, fight and win, said Staff Sgt. Lucas Rolfe, 14th AMU avionics technician.
Aircraft maintenance is more than fixing problems on broken aircraft and returning them to service -- maintenance is a way of life for all who choose this career field, added Sergeant Rolfe.
"Maintenance by far is one of the most satisfying career fields," said Sergeant Rolfe. "You get a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of pride when you put all your blood, sweat and tears into fixing an aircraft that is broken and then see it takeoff again ready to accomplish the mission."