An F-15E Strike Eagle assigned to the 391st Fighter Squadron awaits maintenance on the flightline at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Feb. 1, 2012. The aircraft is a dual-role fighter jet designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. An array of avionics and electronics systems gives the F-15E the capability to fight at low altitude, day or night, and in all weather. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Debbie Lockhart/Released)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgts. Austin Mauch and Randy Drake, 391st Aircraft Maintenance Unit dedicated crew chiefs, consult a technical order before performing maintenance on an F-15E Strike Eagle Feb. 1, 2012 at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Crew chiefs are constantly inspecting aircraft ensuring every part is fully operational. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Lockhart/Released)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Randy Drake and Senior Airman Christopher Murray, 391st Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chiefs, inspect an F-15E Strike Eagle before performing a hydraulic systems bleed Feb. 1, 2012 at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Debbie Lockhart/Released)
by Airman 1st Class Shane M. Phipps
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/8/2012 - Dedicated crew chiefs maintain mission success -- This is part one of a three part series on jobs critical to flight operations.
The Air Force often works as a well-oiled machine consisting of multiple individuals working in various Air Force Specialty Codes with one common goal -- mission success.
Many AFSCs have a direct impact toward the war effort, yet are consistently overlooked and underappreciated. The MHAFB F-15E dedicated crew chiefs are no exception.
"The jets don't leave the ground until we say it's ok," said Staff Sgt. Randy Drake, dedicated crew chief with the 391st Aircraft Maintenance Unit. "We have a hand in every aspect of these aircraft and nothing goes on without us knowing."
The crew chief's world revolves around maintenance. They are constantly inspecting their aircraft and ensuring every part is fully operational.
"I enjoy the maintenance portion of being a crew chief," said Drake. "Our job is different every day, but our primary objective is to finish the maintenance for that day so the jets can smoothly get airborne the next day and the mission continues."
Along with shouldering the responsibility of how their work directly impacts mission success, the crew chiefs also face unique obstacles when it comes to weather conditions.
"We start our day by trying to predict the weather so we can appropriately prepare," said Senior Airman Brandon Hollingsworth, 391st AMU dedicated crew chief. "Every kind of weather gear is in my locker, ready to go at a moment's notice."
Working in adverse weather conditions is nothing new to the crew chiefs here.
"Last year, I was getting pelted in the face with snow trying to make sure everything with the aircraft was safe," said Hollingsworth. "You take each day as it comes. Today is raining and tomorrow it could be snowing, so you really have to love what you do."
The crew chiefs are not shy when it comes to their pride in what they do.
"Without the crew chiefs the jets aren't flying; and if the jets aren't flying, there is no Air Force," stated Drake.