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Flight line lifeline: AGE supports total force combat airlift

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kristine M. Gruwell
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Stained cement floors appear under the base of a garage door as it’s raised so Airmen can pull a piece of machinery out of the hangar. Behind the large equipment tow, numerous individuals walk to and from stations disappearing occasionally to grab a tool or reach into the crevice to inspect equipment. Only the soft hum of power tools can be heard while Airmen diligently inspect flight line equipment throughout the aerial ground equipment hangar.

The AGE flight within the 19th Maintenance Squadron inspects, repairs and delivers various pieces of equipment in support of each unique airlift mission for the 19th Airlift Wing, 314th AW and 913th Airlift Group.

“Our main goal is to generate an aircraft,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brandon Smith, 19th Maintenance Squadron AGE flight production superintendent. “If aircraft are sitting on the line broke without AGE equipment and maintainers need to repair them, the aircraft can’t go on to complete the mission.”

Many Airmen think of AGE as being the shop which delivers equipment to aircraft along the flight line, but that is only one small portion of the duties they’re assigned.

AGE is made of four sections that break up the requirements for maintaining flight line equipment:  servicing, inspection, repair and support. The servicing section is the primary section Airmen see since they deliver equipment to aircraft maintainers.

Before a piece of equipment can be used in support of the mission, it needs to be looked over by the inspection section. Each piece of equipment has an inspection deadline. Before that date, AGE mechanics examine every inch of the equipment verifying it’s still serviceable.

“Our inspection criteria is the entire unit, so from top to bottom and front to back,” Smith said. “Our guys are crawling in and out of every crevice of the unit. It’s definitely a dirty job.”

If there’s routine wear and tear on the piece of machinery, the inspection section takes care of it, otherwise large repairs are completed by the repair section. The support section is there to handle programs such as safety and scheduling for the rest of the flight.

Every AGE mechanic, regardless of section must know the workings of each piece of equipment in order to maintain it.

“AGE is different from the aircraft maintenance perspective because the aircraft Airmen have a specialty,” Smith said. “We’re a jack of all trades. We have to know every part of the equipment such as engines, hydraulics, air compressors and all other parts of the equipment as opposed to being specialized into one area.”

Without these mechanics, aircraft maintainers would not have the proper equipment to repair C-130s. These Airmen provide key support to generate combat airlift across the total force.

“Everybody is a cog in the wheel and without one cog, the wheel wouldn’t turn,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jason McShane, 19th Maintenance Squadron AGE flight chief. “Without AGE, the mission wouldn’t operate as effectively or efficiently, if at all. We are the lifeline of the flight line.”