Metals tech flight sparks Shaw airpower
By Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 02, 2019
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- In the center of a dark room, subtle orange sparks bounce off an individual. A technician hunched over a table joins together pieces of scattered metal, almost like pieces of a puzzle.
Airmen with the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology flight work 24 hours behind the scenes, mending the components needed to complete projects and ensure mission success.
“Our work revolves around the aircraft,” said Airman 1st Class Tylique McMichael, 20th EMS aircraft metals technology apprentice. “We need to ensure everything entering the shop is completed to the best of our abilities so the jets can get back in the air.”
At least 79 F-16 Vipers rely on the aircraft parts and supporting components fabricated by the metals flight, therefore these Airmen must ensure each part is assembled correctly and passes all efficiency inspections.
Before mending metal the Airmen get dressed in an apron stained from the oils of previous jobs, a smeared protective face cover and gloves that have seen a fair share of wear.
“Once you get tasked an item, you go into autopilot mode,” said McMichael. “You gear up, put on some music and let your training take control from there.”
The Airmen support more than $3 billion in aircraft assets, $30 million in aerospace ground equipment and components for the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron.
“We work with the smallest measurements,” said Airman 1st Class Dakota Montgomery, 20th EMS aircraft metals technology apprentice. “If the aircraft doesn’t have the part needed, the pilot can’t do their job.”