41st HMU keeps Pave Hawks airborne

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Greg Nash
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs

Before they propel into the skies with a choppy, thunderous roar, soaring at approximately 200 mph, Moody’s HH-60G Pave Hawks must be fully equipped to fly at a moment’s notice.

Tasked with providing primary maintenance and ensuring the HH-60s are serviceable are the 41st Helicopter Maintenance Unit’s crew chiefs who’s helping hands assist the 41st Rescue Squadron’s aircrews to perform their various missions.

“It’s definitely a very rewarding feeling when our [aircrew members] are able to go on a rescue mission and accomplish a save,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jason McDowell, 41st HMU airframe, power plant and general section chief. “Without us ensuring the aircraft’s serviceability, a saved person wouldn’t be coming home. Knowing that [coupled] with the fact that our job allows us to have a more active role in all the maintenance requirements makes this the best job in the Air Force.”

This role requires crew chiefs to maintain, troubleshoot and inspect approximately 15 HH-60s in their fleet. According to Senior Airman Anthony Staley, 41st HMU crew chief, such actions allow them to give aircrew members the safest, trusted product.

“We have to do a lot such as [documenting] records of what we do on the aircraft, finding any discrepancies on its components through our inspections, and troubleshooting malfunctions,” said Staley. “This allows us to improve our work processes and give the aircrews opportunities to focus on their mission effectiveness.”

Focusing on consistency and mission effectiveness is vital and something the crew chiefs take pride in, says McDowell. As a key figure in Moody’s rescue mission, the aging helicopter fleet and high-tempo operations present challenges, but crew chiefs face and embrace them every day.

“Although our average aircraft have extended past their life expectancy rates, our maintenance keeps the fleet serviceable and performing at a high level,” said McDowell. “It’s challenging because older equipment can damage more easily which we have to keep a close eye for. Between this and dealing with low manning [due to high deployment cycles], means we have to find additional ways to stay prepared.

“Training and repetition is how we stay prepared,” McDowell added. “This rhythmic pattern of executing our tasks helps us with our heavy flying schedule. [However], our crew chiefs have done a great job by putting in extra hours to keep aircraft flying in quality conditions and ready to launch at a moment’s notice.”

With their ongoing mission of maintaining HH-60s that can launch in an instant, McDowell says the maintenance is critical.

“Providing primary maintenance for the [HH-60G Pave Hawks] overall upkeep is critical,” said McDowell. “This ensures our fleet is able to allow aircrews to rescue our brothers in arms or those in harm’s way in the worst case scenarios.”

Whether rappelling over land or sea to conduct combat search and rescue, and humanitarian relief missions, Moody’s HH-60 aircrews know they can rely on the 41st HMU crew chiefs equipment maintenance actions to safely ascend the skies.