After disconnecting the power cord from a C-17 Globemaster III Jan. 13, 2011, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Staff Sgt. Amaya Talley hauls it back to the power generator. Sergeant Talley is a crew chief with the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron silver aircraft maintenance unit. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Leah Young)
Staff Sgt. Amaya Talley (left) and Airman 1st Class Brad Harrel wrap up the cord on a power generator Jan. 13, 2011, after disconnecting it from a C-17 Globemaster III at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Sergeant Talley and Airman Harrel are crew chiefs with the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron silver aircraft maintenance unit. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Leah Young)
Staff Sgt. Amaya Talley (left) and Airman 1st Class Brad Harrel move a power generator away from a C-17 Globemaster III at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Jan 13, 2011. A generator must be a certain distance away before an aircraft can begin to taxi. Sergeant Talley and Airman Harrel are crew chiefs with the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron silver aircraft maintenance unit. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Leah Young)
Staff Sgt. Amaya Talley, left, inspects the contents of a consolidated tool kit Jan. 13, 2011, as Airman 1st Class Kashawn Moulton observes. Sergeant Talley and Airman Moulton are crew chiefs with the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron silver aircraft maintenance unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Leah Young)
by Airman Leah Young
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
1/18/2011 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AFNS) -- Maintainers here say no airlift wing can provide global airlift for America without ready and available aircraft. No aircraft can deliver global airlift without proper maintenance.
The 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chiefs here ensure the 62nd Airlift Wing's C-17 Globemaster IIIs are safe, reliable and able to complete airlift missions around the world.
"We are responsible for all flightline aircraft maintenance," said 2nd Lt. Ian Mazerski, the 62nd AMXS silver aircraft maintenance unit assistant officer in charge. "Our job is to make sure the airplane can successfully and safely complete the mission."
"It's something different every day," said Staff Sgt. Amaya Talley, a 62nd AMXS silver AMU crew chief. "We start off the day with roll call, we receive our assignments from the expeditor and then we start working on whichever aircraft needs repaired."
The most common AMXS career field is aerospace maintenance technician, or crew chief. Crew chiefs inspect, service and ensure a plane is safe for flight.
"The sole purpose of a crew chief is to inspect aircraft and get their crew to fix it if they can't," said Senior Airman Spencer McPeek, a 62nd AMXS blue AMU crew chief. "On a daily basis, we're generating aircraft to get the mission completed."
If a crew chief discovers an error during an inspection, he or she attempts to fix the problem immediately.
"Some of the errors we repair include changing tires, changing brakes (and fixing) computer problems and avionics," Sergeant Talley said. "We're the jack of all trades. We are required to know the basics of everything on the aircraft."
Although crew chiefs need a basic understanding of all aircraft systems, some problems require specialists. Career fields that fall into the specialist category include guidance and control, communication navigation, electronic warfare, environmental electronics and hydraulics.
"We maintain the whole thing, just like a car mechanic," Sergeant Talley said. "We have specialists for more extensive problems. For example, we know the basics of the hydraulic systems. But if we find a bigger problem that we haven't been trained to fix, we call a hydraulics technician."
According to Airman McPeek, the core values are especially important in the aircraft maintenance squadron.
"We need integrity to actually go through all the checklists, even when nobody is watching," he said. "If we don't exhibit excellence while fixing the planes, it's going to crash. We have to do our very best to find an answer to the problem. And as far as service before self goes, we're out there in any kind of precipitation or freezing temperatures. Day and night. Weekends and holidays. We love what we do because we know the importance of our work.
"The satisfaction of this job is enough for me," Airman McPeek said. "We work really hard to fix a plane, we watch it take off and we know it's safe. There's no feeling like that."
1/19/2011 8:15:19 AM ET What happend to the idea the crew chief on the larger aircraft flew with his or her aircraft? I think it is a good idea to keep the one who knows the aircraft best with it at all times, except of course when there are vacation plans. I know they can't do that with smaller aircraft, i.e., fighters or trainers, but on the ground I think they still own aircraft with their name stenciled on it. I have met some real good crew chiefs in my time who want to know what your doing as a specilist before you do it to their aircraft. Good story! J79 Engine Expert
USAFE Retired, Ohio
1/18/2011 10:58:53 PM ET i remember watching the first airplane i fixed take off. It was the scariest then the most exhilirating experience of my 10 year career.
1/18/2011 8:29:32 PM ET Good story Airman Young. Good grammar, no misspellings, good flow. More importantly you've captured the duties responsibilities and pride maintenance has in the Air Force mission. As a 28-year maintenance veteran my hat's off to the young maintainers of all career fields who keep these planes turning. Nobody supports the warfighter like a maintainer!
Mark Mc, Edwards
1/18/2011 7:35:54 PM ET If his satisfaction is enough for him maybe the Air Force should pay him with more work hours....