Mechanical guts hang out of the open side of a generator. With grease covered hands, the maintenance crew patches up the unit, bringing the beast to life again before sending it away to feed power to an aircraft on the flightline.
The 86th Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight works around the clock to provide aircraft maintenance the tools necessary to achieve their mission.
“We supply ground power for airpower,” said Staff Sgt. Herman Bowser, 86th MXS AGE craftsman. “We fix all of the equipment that the crew chiefs use, or anybody else on base for that matter.”
Aerospace ground equipment technicians work with many units varying from base to base depending on the mission. Here, the biggest part of their workload is maintaining generators.
“You go to another base, the layout and lineup of equipment may be entirely different,” Bowser said. “It’s all based on the aircraft and the needs of the base. Anytime an aircraft touches the ground, they’re going to need us. So (temporary duties) often come up and allow us to go wherever they need us.”
Along with maintaining the equipment, AGE technicians also run inspections.
Airman 1st Class Magaly Vasquez, 86th MXS AGE technician, said they do routine inspections on the ground equipment every six months, 12 months and two years — each more thorough than the last.
“We do those on every single unit, and we wash them to make sure that the unit can perform at its best ability,” Vasquez said.
Since the job is physically demanding, safety is a primary concern for AGE Airmen performing their duties.
“Proper form is the big key,” Vasquez said. “Being a maintainer requires a lot of physical labor, so you have to be fit. You have to be able to keep up. If you’re not doing your part, you have to rely on others to help you out, and it pulls away from them being able to do their job.”
Whether they’re providing heat or power to the aircraft, AGE ensures aircraft maintainers are able to accomplish their mission, which in turn allows the pilots and aircrew to accomplish theirs.
“Aircraft would never take off without us — ever,” Bowser said. “We provide all of the necessary components and equipment for the guys on the flightline and a lot of back shops often times. Whatever you can think of that the aircraft or some back shops need, AGE is the focal point for all of that support.”