Pull the chocks

by Airman 1st Class Desiree W. Esposito
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Those who frequent the flightline are probably familiar with the sight of hard working Airmen moving with a sense of purpose. Whether it’s sunny, raining or snowing, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airmen are busy maintaining aircraft, or in the words of the AMXS, “pulling a chock.”

Slogans such as “pull the chocks, maintenance rocks,” confirms the AMXS has one goal in mind: to keep Ramstein’s C-130J Super Hercules fleet flying high in support of each mission that lies ahead.

The C-130J has a mission that includes supporting combat deployment, resupplying cargo and aeromedical airlift operations for U.S. and allied forces.
AMXS personnel manage the launching and recovery of all C-130Js and ensure any maintenance required can be executed at the drop of a hat.

“Whenever an aircraft lands, maintenance personnel complete a thorough inspection to ensure the aircraft is safe for its next flight,” said
Tech. Sgt. Travis Woodburn, 86th AMXS crew chief, “Prior to flight, the aircrew completes an A-1 preflight, and maintenance personnel perform a Dropped Object Protection Program inspection to ensure the aircraft is airworthy.”

When it comes to servicing the aircraft, the squadron is “by the book.”

“There are guidelines that we follow step-by-step in every part of the aircraft, such as refueling, tire and brake changes, and even tire servicing,” said Staff Sgt. Devon Bullock, 86th AMXS crew chief. “There is not one job that does not have tech data forms available.”

Crew chiefs and specialists labor diligently together to ensure aircraft is available to support any mission the Air Force, Department of Defense or even coalition partners may require.

“Crew chiefs change the tires and specialists change black boxes, engines, wires and hydraulics,” Sergeant Dombroski said. “There’s not a major distinction in duties, as the aircraft can’t fly unless everything is functional and most
jobs require a team.”

Being on-call year-round due to the required maintenance on the large aircraft could have the best Airmen feeling unmotivated and unrewarded; however, the Airmen at the 86th AMXS are more enthusiastic about their jobs than ever.

“Using the Airmen Concept ― taking care of each other, all the time, every time. It actually helps the tough times not be so difficult,” Sergeant Bullock said.
Many Airmen in the AMXS also have the opportunity to travel to places in Europe and Africa, making their every day jobs even more interesting.

“You have the opportunity to see the world,” Sergeant Woodburn said.

Like every job there are positives and negatives, but at the end of the day the Airmen at the 86th AMXS have a sense of accomplishment.

“Having a direct impact on the mission and the pride of watching the aircraft taking off and landing feels amazing,” Sergeant Dombroski said.