Alaska unit deals with challenges of tropical weather

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Daniel McKittrick
  • Air Force Print News
The mission of U.S. jet fighter maintainers is direct: fix what is wrong in a timely fashion to get the jets back on the flightline and ready for take-off. That is the goal of 18th Aircraft Maintenance Unit Airmen from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, as they take part in exercise Commando Sling at Paya Lebar Air Base, Singapore.

But being stationed in Alaska could not prepare them for their greatest feat at Commando Sling, overcoming the tropical weather.

"Being at Eielson, we're reaching -30 or -40 degree temperatures, and getting here, it's upper 80's and humid and a lot of rain," said Staff Sgt. Timothy Hiday, an F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief.

Sergeant Hiday said changes in temperature and air can lead to problems getting the jet to perform as usual, but Airmen like Staff Sgt. Matthew Laramie, an avionics specialist with the 18th AMU, have adapted and overcome.

"We try different parts that are more reliable in these types of temperatures and humid conditions," said Sergeant Laramie, a native of Claremont, N.H. "When we go back to Eielson, we'll just change them back and get ready for cold ops."

Switching parts around allowed the maintainers to get their aircraft in the air as well as hone their own skills.

"If we can figure out how to do it in the heat, in the cold and in the wet and dry conditions, that's just going to make us all around better technicians," said Sergeant Laramie as the last of four F-16s took off for an afternoon sortie.

So whether the thermometer is rising or icicles are forming, the 18th AMU Airmen have proven they are ready to get the mission accomplished no matter what Mother Nature may sling their way.

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