JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
The U.S. Air Force has numerous careers and specialties geared toward ensuring its aircraft are fit for flight. Before those aircraft can even get off the ground, they need to undergo extensive checks, tests and servicing to make sure they are safe to fly. One group of Airmen charged with this responsibility is crew chiefs.
For individuals that have been curious about how military aircraft stay fit for flight, there is now an opportunity to find out more about the people who that happen. The Crew Chief for a day program is a great opportunity for Airmen at JBER to learn something new and interact with an F-22.
The 525th Aircraft Maintenance Unit at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson has reinstituted the “Crew Chief for a Day” program. In this program, individuals spend the day shadowing a crew chief and learning what it takes to do the job.
“Before going through the program, I didn’t realize a crew chief had so much involvement with the jet,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Carly Ranger, 673d Communications Squadron cyber transportation technician. “They are in charge of everything. If anything happens in air or on ground, they are responsible for it.”
Going through this program is a great opportunity to take a glimpse into the everyday life of a person in a different career field.
“The biggest takeaway is to educate personnel on how crew chiefs impact the mission overall,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jeffrey Chandler, 525th AMU flight chief. “In addition to education, another desired outcome of this program is to allow these guys to network with each other.”
The program is designed to take people who do not have a flight line maintenance background and give them an idea of how a crew chief impacts the mission, as well as a glimpse at how the F-22 Raptor is maintained.
“The most rewarding part of being a crew chief is being able to see what you put into it at the end of the day, and seeing the mission being completed because of your hard work,” Chandler said.
A crucial responsibility crew chiefs have is performing basic pre-flight inspections of aircraft so they can fix any issues that may arise. These basic responsibilities include making sure no panels are missing from the aircraft, inflating tires properly, refueling the aircraft, ensuring there are no nicks or tears in cables, and accurately documenting any issues that need to be addressed.
“If I were just coming into the military, I think it would be a sweet job, you learn a whole lot,” Ranger said.
“I think everyone should do it at least once. It’s a learning opportunity you can only get in the military,” Ranger said. “You get to see the inside and outside of a jet that’s live and real and not just a static display, and you can meet the people that get to work on them.”
Those interested in the Crew Chief for a Day program should work with their supervision and contact Chandler at 314-551-6194.