Flying crew chief; one stop airborne repair shop

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
To keep Ramstein's fleet of C-130J Super Hercules mission ready, crew chiefs are responsible to maintain the birds wherever they might land.

Not every 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief travels with Ramstein's C-130's, but because Tech. Sgt. Francis "Buzz" Gilson is a flying crew chief, he goes with the bird.

"Buzz is a major reassuring factor whenever we fly with him," said Capt. Brett Polage, 37th Airlift Squadron pilot. "He's an integral part of the team and ensures this well-oiled machine is a well-oiled machine."

Keeping a smoothly operating engine isn't the only thing Buzz is capable of. Working closely with the loadmasters on board, Buzz helps keep the mission on target while in the air.

"Not only is he willing to always give me silverware to eat with he also keeps me running mentally as well by boosting my morale," said Senior Airman Brandon Millsaps, 37th AS loadmaster. "He knows how to dance, he knows about the (chicken) nuggs and (peanut butter and jelly) goob and most importantly he keeps the C-130J I'm riding in airborne."

Ultimately that's why Buzz said he keeps coming back, the camaraderie among aircrew on the ground and in the air.

"The thrill of learning something new every day and taking care of my people gets me out of bed every morning," said Buzz. "It's the way I was raised, trying to do things the best of my abilities. Some might call it excellence in all I do."

Ensuring his job is done as close to perfection is essential to making sure his crew trusts him, just as much as a family would.

"Making sure all my troops and my aircrew are taken care of and my aircraft is in tip top shape is my most important responsibility," said Buzz. "I'm always thinking about fixing something and if I wouldn't want my family and kids flying in it, why would I want my aircrew to?"

With the assistance of flying crewchiefs like Buzz, Ramstein is capable to responding with airlift and expeditionary combat support, while providing full spectrum airfield operations throughout Europe and Africa.