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A day in the life of an F-15E Strike Eagle avionics technician

Image of Airman 1st Class Carol Russell, a 391st Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15E avionics technician, kicks at a chalk to loosen it in preparation of launching a jet Nov. 29, 2017, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. One of Russell's jobs is to pull chalks so the aircraft can taxi before takeoff.

Airman 1st Class Carol Russell, a 391st Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15E avionics technician, kicks at a chalk to loosen it in preparation of launching a jet Nov. 29, 2017, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. One of Russell's jobs is to pull chalks so the aircraft can taxi before takeoff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alaysia Berry)

Image of Airman 1st Class Carol Russell, a 391st Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15E avionics technician, inspects a 150 pound Halon Fire Bottle Nov. 29, 2017, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. While the jet prepares to take off, Russell's job is to stand next to the fire bottle ready to extinguish any fires that may occur. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alaysia Berry)

Airman 1st Class Carol Russell, a 391st Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15E avionics technician, inspects a 150 pound Halon Fire Bottle Nov. 29, 2017, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. While the jet prepares to take off, Russell's job is to stand next to the fire bottle ready to extinguish any fires that may occur. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alaysia Berry)

Image of Airman 1st Class Carol Russell, a 391st Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15E avionics technician, glances over a technical order before heading out to help launch a jet Nov. 29, 2017, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Technical orders are manuals she can refer to when doing her job to ensure it's being done correctly.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alaysia Berry)

Airman 1st Class Carol Russell, a 391st Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15E avionics technician, glances over a technical order before heading out to help launch a jet Nov. 29, 2017, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Technical orders are manuals she can refer to when doing her job to ensure it's being done correctly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alaysia Berry)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- There are over 200 different career fields in the Air Force. A portion of those career fields’ mission is to ensure that aircraft goes (and stays) into the air safely.

Aircraft maintainers are responsible for repairing jets. F-15E Strike Eagles avionics technicians are a specific type of maintainer responsible for the repair and upkeep of avionics systems.

Avionics technicians work hours mirror flying schedules of the pilots, so sometimes they work 8 hour days, but it’s not uncommon to work 11 or 12 hours exposed to drastic heat or frigid cold.

But what does an average day in the life of an apprentice F-15E Strike Eagle avionics technician look like?

“An average day for me is launching and recovering jets,” said Airman 1st Class Carol Russell, 391st Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15E avionics technician. “We maintain them. If something goes wrong on the jet, and we can fix it while it’s on the jet, then that’s what we do.”
Because Russell is still relatively new in her training, her current focus consists of preparing jets for takeoff.

Russell explains that she comes to work a bit earlier than what’s expected of her to gather the tools that will be needed to work on the jet before roll call begins. When she is not removing various safety pins on a jet, pulling chalks, or watching the jet intently, she’s expected to be a professional problem solver, ready to perform scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on an F-15E at a moment’s notice.

However, even professional problem solvers have their struggles at times.

“One rough part of the job is when you can’t seem to find the solution to a problem,” Russell said. “Sometimes it feels like you’re going down goose trails to find a solution to a problem. One system may integrate with 10 other systems (on the jet) and if one thing is wrong, there are so many different avenues you can go down to try and figure out what is wrong.”

There may be difficulties at times, but Russell works through them. She understands the importance of doing her job with excellence because she always keeps the bigger picture in mind.

“We do training sorties every day, Monday through Friday we fly,” Russell said. “It might be easy for people to think ‘Oh that’s just training’ but that is our mission, whenever we are activated we’re going to be ready to do the same thing anywhere in the world. Our job is to maintain jets so that they are always ready to deploy.”