by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/1/2016 - SOUDA BAY, Greece -- Let's
face it, things break. A kid's toy, TVs, kitchen wear, automobiles, and
yes, even a couple million-dollar airplanes can break. That's when
the maintainers of the 52nd Fighter Wing get called to fix what's
More than 15 U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighter Falcon fighter aircraft
assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base,
Germany, are currently on a forward training deployment at Souda Bay,
Greece, for bilateral training with the Hellenic air force, Jan. 22-Feb.
"What we're here for is to get our pilots and maintainers trained and
prepared for any future deployments that could send them downrange,"
said U.S. Air Force Capt. Erik Ringstad, 480th Expeditionary Fighter
Squadron aircraft maintenance unit officer in charge. "My role here is
to supervise and coordinate the maintainers we have, approximately 230
to provide safe, reliable and secure aircraft for our pilots."
Once an aircraft lands and is handed over to the maintainers, it can
take up to three hours to turn around the aircraft and ready it for the
The Hellenic air force maintainers have been working with the 52nd FW
maintainers to get a better understanding of hotpit operations, added
"They currently don't run that operation here, which is essentially
refueling the aircraft while the engine is still running to expedite
turn on the aircraft," he said. "They have been working with our guys to
actually get an understanding and to eventually apply that here."
The U.S. Air Force's forward presence in Europe allows the U.S. to work
with allies and partners to develop and improve ready air forces capable
of maintaining regional security.
With flying times starting in the morning and moving on in the late
afternoon, it takes more than one shift of Airmen to maintain the
"Right now we're on ten-hour shifts with the ability to go to 12-hour
shifts if needed," said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Brian Parsons,
480th EFS aircraft maintenance unit superintendent. "It's an open ramp
environment which is good for the maintenance aspect of it, as long as
the weather cooperates. When it rains, there is not a lot of cover out
Parsons added, for maintainers to get out in an expeditionary
environment like this and see what kind of challenges they can face
is good training.This deployment also shows continuing contributions to
develop and improve air readiness while maintaining security and
building long-lasting alliance capacity.
"My mission makes me feel proud and important," said U.S. Air Force
Staff Sgt. Thai MacLeod, 480th EFS aircraft maintenance unit aerospace
ground equipment craftsman. "If we don't provide power to the jets, the
maintainers can't fix the jets, and jets can't fly. We play a pretty big
part, and I like that."
They may not be fixing TVs or kids' toys, but the maintainers spend
countless hours each day doing what they say they do best: fixing and
maintaining the aircraft of the 52nd FW.
"At the end of the day, from a maintainer's perspective, we make sure we
are proficient and give the aircrew reliable aircraft," Ringstand said.