January 5, 2010 (by SSgt. Richard Williams) - Most Airmen have seen an aircraft take off. They hear the hum of a taxiing jet. It sits at the end of the runway, and then zooms across the landscape as if it were shot from a cannon at a thousand miles per hour.
A1C. Jeremy Betello, aircrew flight equipment specialist, 455th EOSS, works on a helmet while Capt. Austin Brown, 79th EFS, prepares for his flight on January 4th, 2010.
The F-16 fighter lifts off en route to support Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines accomplishing missions everywhere.
This scene is the bedrock of the U.S. Air Force's operations, but before the pilot can step to the jet and take off, there is one critical stop that must be made: the aircrew flight equipment section.
"On a daily basis, we inspect all the equipment needed by the pilots for a successful mission," said Airman 1st Class Jeremy Botello, 455th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, aircrew flight equipment specialist. "We look at everything from the helmet and night vision goggles to the 'G' suits and harness. We also ensure their display units that are used for targeting are operational."
The meticulous inspections consist of checking the visors for cracks, ensuring the helmets have no dents or cracks and all of the interior parts are in place, said Botello, who is deployed from 20th OSS, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. "We make sure that the pilots can see when they are out there and that their gear can stand up to the rigors of flight."
The harness and survival gear are also inspected and repaired on an as needed basis so if the pilot has to eject, the proper gear is in place and operational to aid in survival and rescue efforts, said Botello.
"I can't say enough about the criticality of what these guys do," said Capt. David Snodgrass, 79th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, as he prepared his equipment to leave. "We have to know that when we launch, all of our equipment is ready to use and it is awesome to know we have such great professionals doing the job."
"This is my first deployment. I work with a great crew and I have learned a lot here," said Botello. "It is important to me that we are hands on with the mission. We have a direct impact on how things go up there and it is great to know if we accomplish our job they (the pilots) can do theirs."
Botello said he gets his job satisfaction from seeing the pilots walk in after another successful mission. "I love to see them walk back in and tell me that the equipment worked great and there were no issues; it makes my job a lot easier."