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Aircrew Flight Equipment airmen save lives

AFE Airmen are responsible for ensuring the aircrews gear is in top-notch condition before takeoff.

Senior Airman Kayla Stennis, 366th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, inspects equipment January 3, 2018, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. AFE Airmen are responsible for ensuring the aircrews gear is in top-notch condition before takeoff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Malissa Armstrong)

AFE Airmen are responsible for ensuring the aircrews gear is in top-notch condition before takeoff.

Senior Airman Kayla Stennis, 366th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, fits 1st Lt. Ryan Bohdel, 391st Fighter Squadron pilot, for his gas mask January 3, 2018, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. AFE Airmen are responsible for ensuring the aircrews gear is in top-notch condition before takeoff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Malissa Armstrong)

AFE Airmen are responsible for ensuring the aircrews gear is in top-notch condition before takeoff.

Senior Airman Kayla Stennis and Senior Airman Whitney McCray, 366th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeymen, inspects equipment January 3, 2018, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. AFE Airmen are responsible for ensuring the aircrews gear is in top-notch condition before takeoff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Malissa Armstrong)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- When aircrew take to the skies, they have to be focused and that focus needs to be clear in case of an emergency. There isn’t time to worry if the lifesaving gear they’re wearing will hold up when needed.

The Airmen responsible for this equipment ensure the gear is in top-notch condition before the aircrew even step on the flightline.

Aircrew Flight Equipment prepares and inspects the gear used by the aircrew. The helmet all the way down to the G-suit is inspected and maintained by these Airmen.

“We come in, we open shop and start our preflight inspections,” said Senior Airman Kayla Stennis, 366th Operations Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman. “Making sure that whoever is flying for the day, we check their gear to make sure it’s good to go, making sure their comm is working, making sure their oxygen equipment is good to go and that there are no leaks so that they’ll be able to get the oxygen supply they need in the aircraft.”

The job doesn’t stop there.

“Once they get back from their flight we post-flight their gear to make sure that nothing has been broken from the flight and landing,” Stennis said. “If so, then we have to contact maintenance on the ground and make sure that they find whatever piece is missing from the equipment so that it’s not FOD in the jet.”

Their days, like any other job, can begin to become monotonous, but it’s this job that has a direct hand in the safety of the aircrew.

“Our job is to make sure our aircrew get out the door safely and that they get back safely,” said Senior Airman Whitney McCray, 366th Operations Squadron AFE journeyman. “It can get very tiring to do the same thing continuously, but you have to respect what you’re doing because if you do your job correctly they’re going to come back safely.”

Despite little variation, these Airmen can see first-hand the impact of their job.

“I have a greater appreciation for the job by working with the equipment because a lot of the times, the aircrew just trust us with their gear,” Stennis said. “At the end of the day, knowing that we did our job the right way, we don’t have to worry about them having any problems as far as their gear if they needed to use it.”

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