No sight no flight

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Now imagine your car being a multi-billion dollar aircraft flying at 50,000 feet in the air. This is what the B-2 Spirit pilots would be faced with if not for the Airmen of the 509th Maintenance Squadron (MXS) Electrical and Environmental (E&E) Shop.

Airmen like U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christian Anthony, an E&E systems technician assigned to the 509th MXS, work with electrical panels that control all the interior and exterior lighting of each B-2 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

“My shop works on a list of electrical components for the B-2,” said Anthony. “We maintain electrical panels, lighting control units, strobe lights, as well as a variety of less specific but still very important components of the B-2.”

With each job comes different challenges, whether it be time, manning or severity of the problem at hand.

“One of the challenges we face is limited personnel,” said Tech. Sgt. Thomas Corona, the electrical and environmental section chief. “We are a small section and our daily workload can change at a moment’s notice, but long days, heavy workloads, deadlines and busted knuckles never stop us from moving forward to get the job done.”

With only 10 Airmen assigned to the shop spilt between different shifts all Airmen must be able to make repairs in a timely manner. But repair times as well as toolsets can vary depending on the component.

“Some may take a few minutes, some can take hours,” said Anthony. “For example a full test on an Ice Detector Unit takes about 10 minutes to complete, but some specific lighting control units take an upward range of an hour if it flows smoothly.”

Without E&E ensuring all electrical components are serviceable, night missions similar to the strikes on multiple ISIS camps in Libya, would be nearly impossible. This collaborative effort is a characteristic of how the Whiteman mission is accomplished with no part being greater than another.

“Our phase inspections and repair work save the B-2 from excessive maintenance downtime,” said Corona. “Our section, as well as all of the 509th MXS community are committed to the stewardship and longevity of this fleet and the mission of the 509th Bomb Wing.