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Mission runs better with AGE

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Maintainer’s work around the clock across the U.S. Air Force to keep aircraft and vehicles ready to go at a moment’s notice. Aerospace ground equipment Airmen have a significant role in the maintenance career path to ensure warfighters can deliver combat air power when needed.

At Ali Al Salem Air Base, the 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s AGE crew is a driving factor toward why the mission on the flight line is accomplished so well.

“We perform inspection, repair and modification maintenance of the aerospace ground equipment that is used to support various aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Courtnay A. Hester, 386th EMXS AGE mechanic. “What most see is our shop dispatching equipment, but what they don’t is all the work we perform on items needing repairs in our shop.”

Hidden away from day-to-day work under the blistering heat of the sun, the AGE shop starts every morning rolling up their building’s long rolling doors to bring in flight line equipment. Maintenance stands, power carts, pneumatic systems, hydraulic systems, air conditioners: the job demands a lot of flexibility of its Airmen.

“We provide the equipment necessary for anyone working on any bird to get the job done,” Hester said.

The ability to provide Airmen with the right equipment when it’s needed is what Staff Sgt. Christopher Davis, 386th EMXS AGE mechanic, believes is his shop’s greatest impact on the mission.

“Our impact on flight line operations is seen if crew chiefs and other shops don’t have the equipment needed to maintain aircraft,” Davis said. “If that happens, they don’t get off the ground.”

To meet mission demands within an allotted time frame, AGE mechanics must utilize their years of training and experience. However, one obstacle they must overcome is being trained on different air and ground equipment as their work environment changes.

“An example for myself would be that I originally worked with U-2 Dragon Ladies and RQ-4 Global Hawks during my initial six years at Beale Air Force Base, California; then the C-130 Hercules’s with the 123rd Airlift Wing at Louisville, Kentucky,” Hester said. “I haven’t worked with fighter/MQ-9 Reaper AGE equipment, so for myself, it’s new equipment.”

While some may see this as a strain, others, like Davis, see it as a chance to experience something new.

“I personally enjoy my job very much,” Davis said. “Every piece of equipment presents a new challenge.”

Without the collective ability of these Airmen, aircraft would be stuck on the ground. Instead, their drive to take on challenges ahead helps AASAB’s mission to provide deterrence and stability in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility at a level few shops can claim as proudly as they can.