MacDill After Dark: The flight line never sleeps

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan C. Grossklag
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

When the sun creeps down over MacDill Air Force Base, not everyone packs up their belongings and heads home. For some, including Airmen of the 6th Maintenance Group, the transition from day to night marks the beginning of their work day.


Many call these work hours the “graveyard shift,” but this period is officially known as a mid-shift, following the afternoon “swing” shift and ending before the day hours. By having designated groups working throughout all hours of the day and night, MacDill preserves its ability to provide unmatched air refueling at peak performance.


“With most flying done during the day, we have to have Airmen here getting these aircraft ready to go,” said Tech. Sgt. Jordan Johnson, a 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. “It’s up to the swing and mid-shifts to fix all the jets to fly the next day.”


The different maintenance shifts work in a revolving door fashion, efficiently completing tasks as they come throughout the day in order to keep the KC-135 Stratotanker in the skies. Working at night is a tall task but adapting to the unique challenges is key and the mid-shift has its benefits.


“I like working at night because we’re able to avoid a lot of the people and base traffic,” said Airman 1st Class Lorenzo Hernandez, a 6th AMXS dedicated crew chief.


According to Johnson and Hernandez, less people around the base makes it easier for everyone to focus on the tasks at hand and the quality of their work.


It’s difficult to overstate the transition to night shift. Seemingly simple tasks such as a consistent sleep or meal schedule can become an obstacle for those assigned to a mid-shift.


“There’s nothing open this early so it’s hard to get set on a good eating schedule,” said Johnson. “You have to get used to eating at three in the morning and that being your lunch. Transitioning is the roughest, I try to sleep as much as I can before work and from there everything falls into place.”


Without the “graveyard shift,” MacDill wouldn’t be able to complete key missions day-in and day out. The Airmen of the 6th MXG are a major component of the 6th Air Mobility Wing’s effective rapid global mobility and mid-shift ensures that MacDill never sleeps.