February 1, 2010 (by SrA Katie Spencer) - Maintaining an F-16 aircraft is no easy task. Add extra flying missions, longer shifts and increased safety hazards, and the task is more daunting than usual. But the Airmen of the 482nd Maintenance Group of Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., are up for the challenge.
A crew chief from the 482nd MXG of Homestead ARB, taxis F-16C block 30 #88-0405 from the 93rd FS for a pre-flight inspection during Red Flag on January 29th, 2010. This is the first time in 16 years Homestead ARB has participated in Red Flag.
Last week, more than 100 Airmen from the 93rd Fighter Squadron "Makos
" and the 482nd MXG deployed to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to participate in the advanced aerial combat training exercise, Red Flag.
Maintainers are responsible for the aircraft from the nose of the jet all the way to the tail. All systems that help the aircraft operate are checked, serviced and re-checked before the pilot can take off. Nothing gets overlooked, and even the smallest issue is fixed and documented immediately.
"We work hard so the pilots can take off on-time and complete the operation in a successful and safe manner," said Tech. Sgt. Marcio Mattos, crew chief for the 482nd MXG.
Being that Homestead ARB
is part of the Air Force Reserve Command, the flying and maintaining of the aircraft does not occur on as large of a scale such as the active duty units.
"Red Flag gives the AFRC
community the ability to come out, participate and show what we do and how well we do it," said Lt. Col. Michael Reid, 482nd MXG commander. "Our work during this exercise shows the fruits of our efforts back home, and it portrays us as professionals at Red Flag."
The work day for the maintenance group at Red Flag is non-traditional compared to the usual working hours they are used to. Around the clock coverage is broken down into three, nine-hour shifts and each shift has certain responsibilities.
"The morning and afternoon shifts cover the flying windows, prepping the aircraft for takeoff, and the execution of that days operation, whereas the overnight shift is responsible for servicing the aircraft for the morning," Colonel Reid said.
During this particular Red Flag, maintainers from 19 different units work on more than 80 aircraft on the flight line. With the increase of aircraft and manpower on the runway, safety is key in order to carry out the mission successfully.
"Safety is paramount on any flight line and the Red Flag line is no exception, " Colonel Reid said. "All the Airmen must practice situational awareness and operational risk management during this time of increased operations tempo."
Whether at home or deployed for a special exercise, the Airmen of the 482nd MXG work hard utilizing their skills and expertise to provide safe and reliable aircraft in order to effectively complete their mission to fly, fight and win.