RAF MILDENHALL, England --
The 100th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment shop operates behind the scenes to support the aerial refueling mission.
Responsible for repairing and maintaining the flight equipment pilots and boom operators need such as survival resources, oxygen masks, radios, and chemical protection gear, AFE serves an important role in mission success.
“We exist to ensure the safety of the aircrew member,” said Senior Airman Jesse Inman, 100th OSS aircrew flight equipment technician. “You always have someone else’s life in your hands, whether it be pilots, passengers or other AFE members.”
A piece of gear not working during a mission can lead to disaster. Consequently, every piece of equipment AFE places on the aircraft undergoes regular inspections to ensure functionality.
“We have different inspection cycles depending on the equipment,” said Inman. “Quick-don oxygen masks have an inspection cycle of 30 days, and every 120 days, we break them down, clean them, make sure everything is working, and put them back together.”
With aircraft constantly taking off and equipment moving in and out of the shop, planning is a necessity for AFE personnel.
“If you look at our schedule, we’ve forecasted out an entire year how all of our rotations are going to go. We’ve thought through how we’re going to cycle out gear and how we’re going to move it from one plane to the next so we can do our inspections,” said Tech. Sgt. Alexander Johnston, 100th OSS AFE lead trainer. “We always operate with the mindset of looking forward.”
Whether it be inspecting an oxygen mask or examining the integrity of a flotation device, the AFE Airmen understand the importance of the work they perform.
“No job is too small,” said Inman. “You may think what you do doesn’t impact the mission, but in fact it really does.”