July 27, 2016 (by SSgt. Benjamin Raughton) - A long-haul truck must be maintained to continue operating safely and efficiently for the driver. This involves regular inspections, oil changes, tire rotations, parts replacements and tune-ups.
SrA Dabnell Morales, 81st ERQS aerospace propulsion journeyman, left, SSgt. Michael Patterson, 81st ERQS aerospace propulsion craftsman, center, and SrA Tavaris Scott, 81st ERQS crew chief, replace a C-130J Hercules tire at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti on July 18, 2016. [USAF photo by SSgt. Benjamin Raughton]
Now imagine if that truck weighed hundreds of thousands of pounds, was required to travel hundreds of miles per hour, — and flew.
Aircraft maintainers come face-to-face with those challenges every day; they are responsible for putting the 81st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron’s C-130J Hercules in the air.
“The maintenance mission for us is to keep the aircraft reliable and safe at all times, so we can do our mission of search and rescue at any time and short notice when called upon,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ramiro Gonzalez, 81st ERQS flightline expediter. “When these planes bring troops back, I feel very satisfied. That means we did our mission at 100 percent.”
Maintainers inspect every part of an aircraft, from engines to tires, on a regular basis to ensure the plane takes off, performs its mission and returns with all aircrew and passengers safely.
The endless hours these Airmen put into their work often brings them closer together as a team.
“It’s like working with your family,” said Senior Airman Tavaris Scott, 81st ERQS crew chief. “It brings a lot of camaraderie, friendships, like having brothers and sisters even though we’re working together. We have our days when we’re down but we pick each other up and say hey, we have a mission and we have to do it and let’s get it done. We always get the mission done and bring people home.”
Scott said the most gratifying thing he experiences as a maintainer is being able to see the plane take off.
“There’s something about knowing you put your hard work, your sweat, blood and tears into it and seeing the plane take off and you know that someone is going to be rescued, saved and brought home to see their family and friends once again,” Scott said.