Flying crew chief; one stop airborne repair shop

Tech. Sgt. Francis Gilson, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, an Andersonville, Tennesse native, prepares to climb inside a 37th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules after post-flight checks on Riga International Airport, Latvia, May 17, 2014. Gilson was part of a five-man crew including 37th AS pilots and loadmasters. The team spent four days across three Baltic countries assisting in personnel drops of allied partners and American service members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan)

Tech. Sgt. Francis Gilson, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, an Andersonville, Tennesse native, prepares to climb inside a 37th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules after post-flight checks on Riga International Airport, Latvia, May 17, 2014. Gilson was part of a five-man crew including 37th AS pilots and loadmasters. The team spent four days across three Baltic countries assisting in personnel drops of allied partners and American service members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan)

Senior Airman Austin Koester, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, a Murdo, South Dakota native, moves a ladder in place to help Tech. Sgt. Francis Gilson, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, an Andersonville, Tennesse native, with engine maintenance on Riga International Airport, Latvia, May 17, 2014. Pilots and loadmasters from the 37th AS, alongside an 86th Aircraft Maintenance flying crew chief spent four days across three Baltic countries assisting in personnel drops of allied partners and American service members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan)

Senior Airman Austin Koester, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, a Murdo, South Dakota native, moves a ladder in place to help Tech. Sgt. Francis Gilson, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, an Andersonville, Tennesse native, with engine maintenance on Riga International Airport, Latvia, May 17, 2014. Pilots and loadmasters from the 37th AS, alongside an 86th Aircraft Maintenance flying crew chief spent four days across three Baltic countries assisting in personnel drops of allied partners and American service members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan)

Tech. Sgt. Francis Gilson, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, an Andersonville, Tennesse native, waits for American service members and Lithuanian paratroopers to board a 37th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules at Šiauliai International Airport, May 17, 2014. Gilson was part of a five-man crew including 37th AS pilots and loadmasters. The team spent four days across three Baltic countries assisting in personnel drops of allied partners and American service members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan)

Tech. Sgt. Francis Gilson, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, an Andersonville, Tennesse native, waits for American service members and Lithuanian paratroopers to board a 37th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules at Šiauliai International Airport, May 17, 2014. Gilson was part of a five-man crew including 37th AS pilots and loadmasters. The team spent four days across three Baltic countries assisting in personnel drops of allied partners and American service members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan)

Tech. Sgt. Francis Gilson, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, an Andersonville, Tennesse native, waits to take off from Šiauliai International Airport, Lithuania to airlift American service members and Lithuanian paratroopers on a 37th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules, May 17, 2014. Gilson was part of a five-man crew including 37th AS pilots and loadmasters. The team spent four days across three Baltic countries assisting in personnel drops of allied partners and American service members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan)

Tech. Sgt. Francis Gilson, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, an Andersonville, Tennesse native, waits to take off from Šiauliai International Airport, Lithuania to airlift American service members and Lithuanian paratroopers on a 37th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules, May 17, 2014. Gilson was part of a five-man crew including 37th AS pilots and loadmasters. The team spent four days across three Baltic countries assisting in personnel drops of allied partners and American service members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- 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.