Aircrew flight equipment preserves lives

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- This is part two of a three part series on jobs critical to flight operations.

-- The Air Force is comprised of different careers, with different objectives, but they all, contribute to the mission.

Some career fields, such as aircrew flight equipment, even maintain the daunting responsibility of supporting the lives of aircrew personnel, directly affecting the war effort.

"Our job is extremely important because the equipment we work with is the last line of defense for aircrew," said Staff Sgt. Shawn Hubbard, aircrew flight equipment craftsman with the 366th Operations Support Squadron. "If the mechanics don't do their job the jets won't get off the ground, but we put the tools in place to make sure every crew gets home safely."

The aircrew flight equipment team is in charge of maintaining, inspecting and repairing all flight equipment, from parachutes to anti-G suites.

"We ensure all aircrew have appropriate gear to fly with," stated Senior Airman Rick Stone, 391st Fighter Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician. "We also make sure anything they fly with on a day-to-day operation is safe."

At times, the amount of work these Airmen put in to ensure the safety of flight crews goes overlooked.

"People don't often see how much goes into making sure aircrew is safe," said Stone. "Our job is important to the mission because we are the last line of defense if all else fails."

Job satisfaction comes with the territory for an aircrew flight equipment technician.

"There's a lot of satisfaction that comes out of this job," explained Stone. "At the end of the day we don't necessarily get a handshake for everything we do, but we know when we're doing our job, people are a lot safer."

Hubbard agrees, and has personally witnessed his hard work pay off.

"When I first came to Mountain Home I heard there had been a 'punch out' on a routine training mission at my old base in Korea, and that was the first time one of my parachutes was used," said Hubbard. "It's a good feeling to know the stuff you do saves lives."