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Guardian technicians: Airmen keep crewmembers prepared, in the air

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Miles Wilson
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar—  Members of the 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment Flight work day and night to ensure that the crewmembers they support are ready for anything. Whether the crew is simply landing after a mission, or they need to complete an emergency evacuation from their aircraft, they depend on their equipment to function correctly, which is where the aircrew flight equipment technicians come into play.  

On a typical day, Airman 1st Class Eric Hornbeck, an aircrew flight equipment technician with the 379th EOSS, cranks on a lever, pulling the drag parachute in front of him taut and straight. He and his team then inspect the canopy and the lines, checking for frays, burns or holes, and after finding no discrepancies, they proceed to untangle the mass of lines in front of them.

Grabbing the lines in a bunch, the Airmen shake them out to untangle them and then tie them together in groups. After the chute has been prepped, the crew places a chute deployment bag inside of a metal bin and starts to pack the chute inside of it, ensuring that it is packed tightly.

All of this is done to guarantee the drag chute functions properly, helping to stop the aircraft after landing and taking strain off the brakes to prolong their lifespan. It is just one of the many jobs these Airmen are tasked with to ensure the safety of the aircrew they support.

“We work on anything that an aircrew member may need in an emergency,” said Hornbeck. “We inspect the equipment, clean it, and make sure it is good to go for when the crew may need it.”

The 379th EOSS Aircrew Flight Equipment Flight works 24 hours a day to ensure the crews they support are equipped for any situation. They arm the aircrew before flight, issue them their flight gear and inspect the equipment to ensure that it is in working order.

“Without us, the aircrew wouldn’t be able to fly at all,” said Tech. Sgt. Phong Pham, the aircrew flight equipment superintendent with the 379th EOSS. “We are the only shop that supports some of the particular squadrons here. From inspecting the helmets and night vision goggles to packing parachutes and issuing their weapons, we have a hand in everything.”

The aircrew flight equipment technicians all play a vital role in mission assurance for the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing. Without their expertise, the aircrew’s equipment runs the risk of not being in proper working order and could malfunction when needed.  

“Since a lot of the equipment we work on is used in case of emergency, we need to do our jobs correctly,” said Hornbeck. “If not, we could lose an aircraft or something drastically worse could occur. It’s good to know that every time that I go home, if an aircrew member faces an emergency, they can trust their equipment because of me.”

The aircrew flight equipment technicians all deployed together from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, and have been working together for the last three years.

“They are all good Airmen,” said Pham. “They know their jobs, and they do them proudly. They know what the mission entails, and they get the job done.”