Creativity stemming from all Airmen
By Aieman 1st Class Antwain Hanks, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 30, 2020
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Creativity and innovations are some of the foundation of the United States Air Force. Every fight is different from the last, every obstacle brings a new mountain of challenges to traverse.
Airmen face obstacles within their everyday jobs such as outdated ways to do certain tasks, outside factors that make doing the task harder or even just more efficient ways to do the job that has not been adopted yet.
To help battle this, the Air Force holds an annual event called “Spark Tank”, where they take ideas from Airmen that can help innovate and improve processes within their work space.
These ideas can range anywhere from a checklist that speeds up the process of a pre-flight check and makes the process more efficient, or a tool that helps load ordnance on a jet or fixing an aircraft mechanical issue while still maintaining safety and efficiency.
Over 200 ideas were pitched this year but only six were chosen to advance to the final round. These Airmen present their inventions on stage where it is voted on by Air Force leadership who then choose which idea will be implemented Air Force wide.
Some of the ideas that were pitched last year included a gadget called the “K-Wedge C-17 Globemaster III Loading Aid”. This invention is designed to help with loading the aircraft. Also submitted was a low cost threat emitter replication that is cheaper to produce and enhances the training of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II pilots and a portable magnetic aircraft cover that allows the covers to travel onboard the aircraft making the process of traveling more efficient.
At Mountain Home AFB alone three ideas, such as a safer and more efficient way to test the functionality of the F-15E Strike Eagle main landing gear proximity switch after its replacement, were pitched and have gained support from leadership on base to be entered into next year's competition.
This competition not only provides a way for Airmen to compete against each other and stay productive but more importantly, it allows Airmen of all ranks a chance to innovate within their work space, potentially saves money and even lives down range.
Spark Tank is just one of the many ways the Air Force is modernizing and changing to build a better and more efficient Air Force for the future.