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Backbone of aviation

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Martin Boykin, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, inspects the cockpit system of an F-16 Viper at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, July 12, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Martin Boykin, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, inspects the cockpit system of an F-16 Viper at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, July 12, 2019. A normal work day for maintenance Airmen can range from eight to 12 hours. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Maintenance Group work on the flightline at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, July 12, 2019.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Maintenance Group work on the flightline at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, July 12, 2019. The maintenance Airmen were tasked with thoroughly inspecting and repairing assigned jets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

A U.S. Air Force tactical aircraft maintainer assigned to the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron performs maintenance on the wing of an F-16CM Viper at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, July 12, 2019.

A U.S. Air Force tactical aircraft maintainer assigned to the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron performs maintenance on the wing of an F-16CM Viper at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, July 12, 2019. Maintainers inspect the aircraft and troubleshoot problems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew Giordano, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron dedicated crew chief, reviews a technical order at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, July 12, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew Giordano, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron dedicated crew chief, reviews a technical order at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, July 12, 2019. Technical orders provide maintenance Airmen with step-by-step guidelines on how to properly perform tasks safely. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- From sunrise to sunset, the backbone of the aviation community works through the summer heat; crew chiefs are the gears keeping the mission going and aircraft ready.

Even before most of the base community begins the day, Airmen assigned to the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron have already begun their first shift by acquiring tools and equipment before trekking across the flightline.

At the beginning of their shift, Airmen participate in a roll call where they are assigned specific maintenance jobs that must be performed. After arriving at their Vipers, the Airmen review their technical order - which provide guidance on how to properly performs tasks - and assemble all the equipment needed to prepare the aircraft for flight.

“It is critical that we perform our job to the best of our abilities,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Brantmeier, 20th AMXS dedicated crew chief. “Our work can take anywhere from eight to 12 hours, but we don’t stop until the job is done.”

Brantmeier went on to say some aircraft maintenance undertakings can take from three hours to as much as three days to complete.

“It’s important that we flawlessly execute our job because there are people’s lives at stake,” said Senior Airman Steven Kuethe, 20th AMXS crew chief. “We need to thoroughly inspect our tasked jets to ensure the overall survivability of the pilot and aircraft.”

These maintenance Airmen provide support to the more than 70 F-16 Vipers assigned to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

“Whether it’s at home station or deployed, they put their reputation and name on the line,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Patten, 20th AMXS, 79th Aircraft Maintenance Unit section chief. “I tell them every day, ‘Hey you’re signing for that and you need to take care of it,’ and they take that to heart.”