Wild Weasels present Proud Falcon
By Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 03, 2018
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
Airmen assigned to the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron demonstrated commitment to the combat readiness of their F-16CM Fighting Falcons during a Proud Falcon Competition, Dec. 21.
The quarterly contest, which began in 2015, provides dedicated crew chiefs from each of the squadron’s aircraft maintenance units a chance to compete head-to-head while demonstrating their ownership and competence to determine which performs the best.
It was an opportunity for units to highlight Airmen who uphold the highest maintenance standards and demonstrate the initiative, management and leadership capabilities necessary to maintain mission capable aircraft, said Lt. Col. Paul Netchaeff, 20th AMXS commander.
The best performing dedicated crew chief and one F-16 from each participating unit, the 55th AMU and 79th AMU, were nominated to go before the judges.
“A maximum of 60 points can be earned during the Proud Falcon Competition,” said Master Sgt. Reginald Dinkins, 20th AMXS production superintendent. “The points (were) awarded for aircraft appearance, aircraft form accuracy, individual dress and appearance, foreign object debris awareness and launch procedures.”
Staff Sgt. Pedro Cahua, 79th AMU dedicated crew chief, spent days working on and cleaning his assigned jet in order to impress the judges.
“The feedback I received from the judges was positive and encouraging,” said Cahua. “The judges loved how clean my jet was and how neatly organized my aircraft forms were.”
This attention to detail can be crucial for maintainers because it can lead to mission success or failure.
“As maintainers, we know what the consequences are if we do not do our jobs right,” said Cahua. “A pilot's life is at stake when we do not bring safe, reliable jets to the line. The mission would come to a screeching halt, because we would not have air superiority if we were to go to war.”
While the competition allows dedicated crew chiefs an opportunity to demonstrate their technical knowledge, it also highlighted their ability to ensure the combat readiness of the 20th Fighter Wing’s F-16s.
“When you're downrange and your jet is fully loaded with (guided bomb units, joint direct attack munition, and small diameter bombs) and it comes back with an empty rack, you take pride knowing we put some warheads on target,” said Cahua. “It's not every day you can say that you took apart a $45 million aircraft and (rebuilt) it piece by piece, knowing you put blood sweat and tears, literally, into making the jet ready to fly.”
As the 20th AMXS Airmen demonstrate their ownership and competence every day by honing their skills and taking pride in their work, they ensure the wing’s aircraft are prepared for combat missions.