From cradle to grave

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Melanie Bulow-Gonterman
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
"When all else fails, we're the last line of defense for the safe return of our flyers."

This is one of the constant reminders that Senior Airman Kevin Robinson, 6th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, think about each and every time he and his 18-man crew inspect one of the more than 3000 pieces of safety equipment they are entrusted with.

"The equipment we provide ensures life sustaining capability in the event of an in-flight emergency," stated Robinson. "It's the physical link between the aircrew and the combat search and rescue components.

On a daily basis, the AFE technicians are responsible for ensuring that the life-saving equipment that is provided to 6th Air Mobility Wing aircrew is properly maintained, inspected and up to the Air Force's technical order governed standards.

The various types of equipment include survival based gear, such as life preservers, life rafts and escape slides, which are installed onto the aircraft should an emergency occur. Other gear they service include helmets, oxygen masks, chemical gear and many other pieces of equipment that are worn and used to complete the mission.

According to Staff Sgt. Denarius Mitchell, 6th OSS NCO in charge of the equipment section, inspections are performed at intervals of 30, 90, 180 and 365 days intervals and vary for each piece of equipment.

When conducting inspections, AFE technicians look for any issues that could arise while using or installing equipment on the aircraft. The overall purpose of the inspections is to assure that the equipment will operate properly, achieve its intended purpose and to avoid any issues that would impede the mission.

"This is very important, because it is our duty to ensure that all of our personal flight equipment is serviceable and up-to-date, because it could negatively affect any mission in which our gear is being used," stated Mitchell. "Our main goal in contributing to the mission's success is to expertly maintain our equipment, as aircrew members and other military personnel's lives are in our hands."

Aside from maintaining and repairing all off the equipment, AFEs must also teach aircrew members the proper use of the equipment, where it's located, and the sustainment and operation of the Aircrew Contamination Control Area for Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear operations.

"We must maintain each AFE component from the moment it arrives until it is no longer serviceable," said Master Sgt. Michael Dupertuis, 6th OSS flight chief. "We inspect it, we repair it, and we replace it. It is a continuous cycle. We have eyes and hands on it from the moment we receive it, to the time that it is no longer serviceable."