86th AMXS and MXS Airmen, Keep birds in the air

  • Published
  • By Airman Dymekre Allen
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
They come fresh out of high school and into the Air Force, entrusted with thousands of lives, millions of dollars in cargo and repairing the greatest fleet in the Air Force.

This is the heavy obligation hung over the heads of new Airmen in the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 86th Maintenance Squadron.

The young Airmen from the 86th AMXS and MXS hold the responsibility of keeping Ramsteins "birds" in the air with less than four years of experience.

"It's stressful knowing I can change thousands of lives if I don't fix an aircraft correctly," said Senior Airman Jacob Curtis, 86th AMXS crew chief. "It's long, high-intensity work that has no room for any flaws or for anything to be over looked."

These Airmen work 24/7 to ensure the mission readiness of Ramstein's C-130J Super Hercules fleet. They also maintain them by conducting in-depth inspections on every aircraft from top to bottom. Inspecting each of them for up to a week or more increases the longevity of the aircraft by years.

"It's a dirty, greasy job," said Airman 1st Class Skyler Archibald, 86th AMXS electrical and environmental systems technician. "It's all about the preventative measures we take to keep these aircraft going and by continuously doing these checks and inspections we can prevent major damage and costly mistakes."

Some of the 86th AMXS and MXS Airmen travel with the aircraft to maintain it in-route to temporary duty stations and missions or in the event the aircraft goes down.

"In case the aircraft does break during flight, there's always one of our guys there to fix any minor problems that may occur," said Curtis.

The maintainers hold the burden of failure over them for even the smallest mistakes due to the fact that they provide aircraft repair support to three major commands, to include; Africa, European and Central Commands.

"If a light bulb, a radio, or anything goes out, we failed," said Airman Tyron Pratt 86th Maintenance Squadron crew chief. "If we can't handle the little things like light bulbs, how can we be trusted to handle the complex systems of the C-130's?"

For some of the 86th AMXS Airmen the pressure can be a lot to bare, but not without reward.

"It's about checking and inspecting over and over sometimes," said Archibald. "You have to have a lot of confidence working on these things because you'll start thinking you made mistakes and that starts to show in your quality of work. It's difficult thinking about what could go wrong, but when everything goes right there's nothing better than watching the aircraft you just repaired take off successfully."

With so much riding on the shoulders of these young maintainer's, they must never fail in their attention to detail.

"We have to get the job done," said Pratt. "Being a maintainer, our responsibility level is high right from the start. We can't miss anything. The safety of the cargo, the mission and lives rely on our ability to keep these aircraft flying.