The Airmen behind the planes

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
It takes countless hours and Airmen to keep a single aircraft flying, and it all starts with the crew chiefs often seen working on their planes covered in grease.

Behind each aircraft is a dedicated team of Airmen who perform regular maintenance and determine whether it is safe to fly.

"We are jacks-of-all-trades when it comes to maintenance," said Airman 1st Class Steven Ellison Jr., 723rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief apprentice. "We know a little about everything. We do small maintenance like changing tires, fueling, servicing locks and checking tire pressure. Once we launch a plane, we wait on the flightline to ensure it gets in the air safely.

"If we encounter a problem that we cannot fix, we call in specialists and delegate the jobs out to them," he added.

In addition to performing regular maintenance, crew chiefs are in charge of the records and forms for each aircraft.

"We use a computer system and forms to track maintenance on aircraft," said Tech. Sgt. Korey Clark, 723rd AMXS lead technician. "Each part we replace, even as small as a missing screw, is documented. Each part has its own code, so if anyone wants to see which parts are replaced the most, they can easily find the code and look up what part it is."

Clark has been a C-130 crew chief for 13 years and knows the challenges and long hours that often come with the job.

"There are always challenges in keeping a 1964 model plane in the air," said Clark. "We prepare the planes for flight. I get to work at 6:45 a.m. and usually don't leave until 5:00 p.m. I also train and supervise Airmen who are newer to the career field.

"A lot of people don't realize how much work goes into making these planes fly," he added. "These planes wouldn't fly without us. We pour our hearts into these planes, and they are important to us."

Despite the long hours and hard work, Clark enjoys his job and loves traveling with the aircraft.

"I love being a crew chief," he said. "The best part of my job is working outside. I also get to travel a lot, and I have been around the world with these aircraft."

The particular aircraft Moody maintainers work on- A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, HC-130P Combat Kings, and HH-60G Pave Hawks- are responsible for providing vital support for missions downrange, including close air support and personnel recovery.

These crew chiefs perform the task of ensuring all maintenance is complete and aircraft are ready to complete their part of the Air Force mission.