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No safety without ‘AFE’

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
In the event a pilot needs to eject from their aircraft, they rely on their parachute to work right the first time.

Airmen assigned to the 20th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop work numerous hours on the gear intended to increase aircrew survivability, in-garrison and while deployed.

These Airmen are scattered across Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina’s, three fighter squadron and are tasked with maintaining and repairing equipment.

“Our mission here is to provide aircrew equipment and exceptional training to support all aircrews,” said Airman 1st Class Orlando Harris, 20th OSS AFE technician.

Each flight is tasked with meeting a mandatory four pilot kit quota, averaging more than 15 kits a week. Each kit consists of a helmet, harness, G-suit and oxygen regulator.

“During our inspections we are looking for any damage, corrosion, cuts and tears,” said Staff Sgt. David Smallidge, 20th OSS AFE technician. “We perform thorough inspection to ensure no damages slip through the cracks.”

Helmets, harnesses and oxygen regulators are inspected every 30 days and the G-suit every 120 days.

“Anything can happen when pilots grab their gear and leave the workcenter,” said Smallidge. “It’s important to check their gear before flying and after they return from flying to ensure their safety.”

All equipment entering the facility must be inspected and repaired thoroughly prior to any pilots leaving.

“We have a hand from the moment the pilots leave our shop to their jet,” said Harris. “If we don’t have our work on point, their equipment may not work the way it is intended, which may impact their survivability in an emergency.”

By paying close attention to the fine details, AFE Airmen ensure the well-being of all aircrews and guarantee mission success.