When it comes to completing the mission, it may be easy to focus on the aircraft in the sky, but before the first turbine even starts spinning there’s plenty of prep on the ground that goes into making that possible. As the saying goes within Aerospace Ground Equipment shops across the Air Force: “There’s no air power without ground power.”
The 375th Operations Support Squadron AGE flight provides maintainers with the equipment needed to keep aircraft ready to fly by making sure equipment such as generators, heaters, and hydraulics are maintained, inspected and ready for use.
“Aircraft need ground support to be able to do flight checks and maintenance before being able to take off,” said Ernesto Realsantana, 375th OSS aerospace ground mechanic. “Sometimes they need generators to run the aircraft, the engines, or do their checks, and that requires assistance from AGE.”
Realsantana has been working in the 375th OSS AGE flight since 2001 and before that he was active duty stationed at Scott Air Force Base in the 1990s. During his time here, he’s seen the everchanging mission at Scott.
“When I first got here, we supported the C-9A’s which were used for medical evacuation then we switched to the C-9C’s which moved the focus to distinguished visitor transport,” said Realsantana. “While the mission still focuses on DV support, there’s also a strong focus on supporting transient aircraft and regional presidential and vice-presidential support.”
The diversity of aircraft stopping at Scott requires members of AGE to have as much knowledge and experience as possible. This allows the ability to recognize a fault within the equipment and to know how to fix it in a timely manner, allowing the mission to run smoothly.
Part of keeping the equipment ready is routinely inspecting and troubleshooting the equipment ensuring that it’s ready for use at any time. AGE mechanics must be knowledgeable in maintaining equipment such as liquid oxygen, used to help aircrew breathe at high altitudes; light carts, for use in night-time flight line operations; and generators, used to keep aircraft components warm.
AGE inspects close to 50 pieces of equipment a week to verify that it’s ready for use and making the necessary maintenance required to fix it if it’s not. AGE is responsible for providing ground support for all transient aircraft that stops in at Scott, said John Sanchez, 375th AGE mechanic.
AGE uses a wide range of equipment to ensure that aircraft have everything they need for maintenance on the ground.
“In AGE you tend to learn about a lot of different things like mechanics, heating and air conditioning, hydraulics, generators,” said Realsantana.
“I think it prepares you to be able to fix any kind of mechanical issue that may happen. The focus of the job is doing what’s necessary to get the mission done.”