by Airman 1st Class Ramon A. Adelan
9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs
1/7/2016 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, California -- As
the day begins for training sorties to take off, Airmen are already
preparing for the mission. Like clockwork, Airmen are checking and
re-checking equipment and supplying pilots with the necessities to fly.
Every Airman plays an essential role in mission success, including those
who are behind the scenes. Airmen assigned to the 9th Operational
Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment at Beale Air Force Base,
California, ensure T-38 Talon pilots are equipped with well-maintained
and serviceable flight gear.
"Our goal and mission is to protect and preserve the aircrew's life,"
said Staff Sgt. Tyler Woodwick, 9th Operations Support Squadron AFE
craftsman. "We make sure equipment is working and intact."
A T-38 pilot is equipped with a helmet, G-suit, parachute, and survival
kit. The kit includes items such as medical and survival modules, life
raft, flares, and food.
"Every item the pilots have are essential, its functionality could mean
life or death," said Senior Airman Allison Van Matre 9th OSS AFE
journeyman. "We can't let these Airmen or their families down, so we go
through pre- and post-flight, daily and weekly inspections of the
The equipment technicians follow technical orders, produced by the
manufacturer and higher headquarters, to conduct inspections. Technical
orders explain the required way to inspect or repair a piece of
equipment. Depending on the equipment there could be hundreds of tasks
per technical order.
"We inspect all surfaces of each piece of gear they have," Woodwick
said. "We check every part of the helmets, from the seals to the visor.
We make sure there aren't any holes, tears or broken seams in their
parachutes and G-suits."
The T-38 is primarily used by the Air Education and Training Command as a
training aircraft, but here at Beale it is used as a familiarization
aircraft when pilots are not flying the U-2 Dragon Lady.
According to Woodwick, this career field is critical to the lives of the pilots who put their trust in the equipment.
"Our tasks aren't something you can halfway complete; we thoroughly
check every piece down to the smallest stitch," Van Matre said. "The
pilots rely heavily on us; they put their life in our hands and our