Ground Power Leads To Air Power!

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The loud purr from generators and steady grind of electrical drills are muffled through bright yellow ear plugs. Intense noise, oil stained boots, and proud faces are elements displaying the efforts of dedicated Airmen working 24/7, supporting Whiteman's air power by providing ground power.

"We take care of all the ground support equipment the crew chiefs use to maintain the aircraft," said Staff Sgt. Travis Moore, 509th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment craftsman. "We do inspections and repairs to make sure the equipment remain functioning."

The 509th MXS AGE flight is responsible for maintaining more than 700 pieces of equipment valued at more than $59 million. The flight inspects and repairs equipment ranging from generators and hydraulic test stands to maintenance stands, flood lights, and engines. Equipment is inspected and repaired during phase inspections, which are separated into two phases.

"We do phase inspections six months apart. The phase one inspection is a less intense inspection where we inspect major components on all the equipment, change the oil and ensure the unit is functioning properly," Moore said. "The phase two inspection is more detailed. We check everything little thing, every little screw making sure they are tight. We also change fluids and filters to refurbish the entire unit and extend its 'life'."

To ensure inspections are done within a timely manner, the team has an estimated timeline for completion, which varies depending upon the equipment they are repairing. The larger the equipment, the more components must be inspected.

Additionally, AGE specialist must adhere to technical orders while repairing the equipment.

"Every piece of equipment is different," said Airman 1st Class Adrian Quichocho, AGE apprentice. "Some pieces of equipment will have requirements stated in the TOs as far as certain components that will need to be checked within the instructed time frame. The time could be expressed in hours, a year or more."

Like many maintenance shops, safety requirements and personal protective equipment are required to perform tasks involving machinery, chemicals, hazards and other elements capable of causing harm.

"When working on equipment it is required all personnel wear the proper PPE," Moore said. "We wear safety glasses, rubber gloves, aprons, face shields and hearing protection. For chemicals, we refer to the material safety data sheet to examine how harmful they are and what we need to wear when dealing with them."

Even with all the hazards lurking about, learning a new trade or skill is an opportunity beneficial to not only the Whiteman mission, but to the Airmen themselves.

"I think our job is important because it gives crew chiefs and other allied shops the right equipment they need to do their job, and to make sure these jets stay in the air," Moore said. "I like that there's a sense of pride knowing this base's $2.2 billion asset can't get off the ground without the hardwork and dedication these Airman put in on a day-to-day basis."

"Before I joined the Air Force, I wasn't a mechanic at all," Quichocho said. "I call this job the 'Jack of all Trades' because we change oil, work on the tires and various equipment. You can become mechanically sound and work on your own car. Not only does this ensure the mission is complete, it helps give us a new set of skills that can help us at any time. There's no air power without ground power!"