Aircraft maintenance gets better with AGE

  • Published
  • By Capt. Marnee A.C. Losurdo
  • 512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Some things, like fine wine, get better with age. The same can be said about the 512th Aerospace Ground Equipment shop.

Maintenance on the Dover Air Force Base C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III fleet requires ground support - this is where AGE saves the day.

Staff Sgt. Brad Fields, an AGE mechanic assigned to the 512th Maintenance Squadron, is one of 35 reservists who fix and maintain the 600 pieces of equipment used to keep Dover's aircraft in top condition.

Whether it is working on a generator used to power engines, an air conditioner or heater to cool and heat the aircraft, or a hydraulic test stand that analyzes an aircraft's hydraulic components, Sergeant Fields said he likes the hands-on aspect of his job.

"It's why I picked this career field because it's so different from my civilian job," said Sergeant Fields who is an electrical engineer for Northrop-Grumman in Norfolk, Va., and spends a lot of time working on the computer.

The reservist said he also likes knowing he plays a critical role in accomplishing the Dover AFB world-wide mobility mission of delivering equipment and personnel to the warfighter.

"If the equipment isn't there for maintainers to use to fix the aircraft the mission would fail," said Sergeant Fields. "Whether the job is big or small, we are all important to the mission."

When Sergeant Fields joined the Air Force Reserve's 512th Airlift Wing in 2002, he went through eight months of training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. Today, that training has been shortened to five and-a-half months. The maintainers are still taught the basic principles to include: electronics; refrigeration; hydraulics; power generation; gasoline and diesel reciprocating engines; gas turbine engines; heating; and pneumatics, which is the use of pressurized gas to affect mechanical motion.

Once trained, the mechanics use this knowledge to inspect, troubleshoot, repair and perform preventive maintenance on AGE equipment, ranging from repair stands to air compressors.

Along with maintaining the support equipment, AGE personnel tow equipment for use on the flightline and in hangars. Because this is what many people associate with the AGE, this aspect of the job frustrates Tech. Sgt. Rob Wynn, an AGE craftsman and Air Reserve Technician who is Sergeant Field's supervisor.

"Some people think that all we do is deliver equipment to the flightline," said the technical sergeant who served six years on active duty before transferring to the Liberty Wing in 2006. "We are not glorified delivery drivers. I don't know who they think fixes this equipment; it's not like there is a magic building all the broken AGE equipment comes out of automatically repaired. We fix and maintain that equipment; there is nothing we don't do."

Sergeant Wynn said he likes the diversity of work he encounters every day, despite the delivery driver stereotype.

"It's something different every day; that's what great about this job," said the sergeant. "You never know what's going to break; it might be the same piece of equipment, but it won't be the same problem."

Thanks to problem solvers such as Sergeants Field and Wynn, and their AGE counterparts, they provide the necessary support to keep Dover's war fighting machines in motion.