RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
Day-to-day life is full of revelations, some good and others bad. When bad situations arise, an Airman’s attention to detail on the ground is imperative to save a life in the air.
The 86th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment Airmen support the 76th Airlift Squadron and the 37th AS aircrew with up-keeping, testing, inspecting and educating aircrew members on all flight equipment. They ensure the aircrew’s gear is fully operational for everyday and emergency conditions.
“Aircrew members have to trust that in case they need to bail out, the equipment works.” said Airman 1st Class Yasmine Mills, 86 Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment apprentice. “If an emergency ever happens, they pretty much put their life in our hands.”
The AFE Airmen manage a variety of equipment to include radios, parachutes, life preserves, survival kits, flight helmets, oxygen masks and chemical gear.
“Our job is very intricate,” Tech. Sgt. Haven Asche 86th OSS NCO in charge said. “We have a lot of small attention to detail items.”
Every stitch sewn and number documented is essential to prepping each piece of gear for a potential bad day.
“[While repacking] parachutes, missing one tacking [could lead to] someone losing their life,” Mills said. “Attention to detail is everything.”
Throughout different areas of the shop, AFE Airmen focus either in solitude or with music, to diligently work on various pieces. Although troubleshooting each piece offers its own set of challenges.
“Sometimes you have a perfect piece of equipment to inspect, sometimes it’s more intricate,” Asche said. “It’s not monotonous at all; it’s never the exact same thing.”
The detail-oriented Airmen perform mission-termination inspections daily with more thorough assessments monthly and annually.
“We’re trying our best.” Mills said. “My initial goal [while working on] equipment is to make sure it’s the best …so I take pride in what I do and in my work.”
While all AFE Airmen handle the life-support equipment, only a few of them have had their equipment used.
Asche is one of them, and said she’s been thanked often for her work in supporting aircrew at past bases and their emergency situations.
“When the equipment was used, my work impacted them quite a bit,” Asche said. “It’s a great feeling when you know the work you put in is appreciated ... we have one of the jobs nobody realizes what you do until something goes wrong. But, if you did your job right, a life is saved.”
As aircrew members continue to aim for mission excellence thousands of feet up in the air, AFE Airmen will continue to do their best to prepare for the worst while on the ground.