HomeNewsArticle Display

Helping F-35A pilots operate, survive at Red Flag

388th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment shop, works on flight equipment, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Feb. 5, 2019. AFE Airmen manage, check and prepare gear pilots need to fly and also survive in the event of an emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Tech. Sgt. Anthony Farnsworth, 388th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment shop, works on flight equipment, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 5, 2019. AFE Airmen manage, check and prepare gear pilots need to fly and also survive in the event of an emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

388th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment shop, works on flight equipment, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Feb. 5, 2019. AFE Airmen manage, check and prepare gear pilots need to fly and also survive in the event of an emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Staff Sgt. Brandon Cunningham, 388th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment shop, works on flight equipment, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 5, 2019. AFE Airmen manage, check and prepare gear pilots need to fly and also survive in the event of an emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) -- The F-35 Lightning II is lethal and survivable in almost any environment, but it’s just a machine, unable to do anything without a skilled pilot. Those pilots need gear to interface with the jet, operate and survive.

Outfitting the pilots is the job of the Airmen in the 388th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment shop. A handful are currently deployed to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, for Red Flag 19-1.

Red Flag is the Air Force’s premier combat training exercise where units from across the Air Force join with allied nations in a “blue force” to combat a “red force” in a variety of challenging scenarios over three weeks.

“I love it,” Tech. Sgt. Anthony Farnsworth said. “We like Red Flag because we get to focus entirely on the job here just like we would if we were actually deployed.”

Farnsworth and his team show up hours before the mission begins and work on checking and preparing anything and everything pilots need to fly the jet or survive in case of an emergency – jackets, harnesses, G-suits, oxygen masks, helmets, survival kits and parachutes.

“I love being part of the F-35 program, because it’s new and advanced” Airman 1st Class Ryan Joplin said. “The helmet is really integrated with the jet and the pilot. We’re responsible for keeping up the helmet and we’re the first one they come to for help.”

As Joplin inspects helmets, Airman 1st Class Henri Steel uses a compressor to pump air into a G-suit to ensure it can withstand the pressure.

“They need this G-Suit to work. These bladders fill up with air and compress around their legs to keep their blood circulating so they don’t lose consciousness when they’re pulling Gs,” Steel said “I know what I’m doing is important.”

All of the Airmen say that while the job is rewarding and they know they have a direct impact on the mission, the thing they enjoy most is their relationship with the pilots.

“We get to see them on a day to day basis, communicate with them,” Joplin said. “It’s nice to relate to them as humans rather than just as uniforms.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
As we continue the #MonthoftheMilitaryChild, check out how @341MissileWing youth build resiliency through gymnastic… https://t.co/kphokVfZTq
Things are heating up at #MountainHomeAFB! Watch as #Airmen @366FW fire department conduct #LiveFireTraining to ens… https://t.co/WRqHdMKdQs
RT @AusAirForce: Friends in high places... literally! Glad to continue the strong cooperation & mateship with @usairforce 🇦🇺🇺🇸 #AusAirForce
#Congrats to the #USAF 2019 Secretary of Defense Environmental Award winners! https://t.co/5j07VznEsc
RT @DeptofDefense: For 41 years, the Global Positioning System has helped us find our way in the world. It’s a system that our modern way o…
#DYK: In 2015 the worldwide C-17 fleet reached 3 million flying hours. The equivalent of flying around the #Earth 5… https://t.co/U01R6Y1gPe
#USAF and @Nationals partner up to teach 40 new commanders and their spouses leadership techniques.… https://t.co/doApMhiIWX
#Airmen & #Soldiers in #Kuwait teamed up to train military working dog handlers on decontamination of their K9s in… https://t.co/QtlvQGUgyF
.@179AW #Airmen know the hardest part isn't the jump, it's the preparation for the heavy drop beforehand. https://t.co/WMV2fBXN2x
.@HQUSAFEPA #Airmen combined their capabilities to provide disaster relief to those affected by #CycloneIdai, deliv… https://t.co/kzkdQA8TOS
The results are in as #USAF announces findings from a year-long review on electronic warfare. Read on for more on t… https://t.co/wAEDCRjj5L
Congratulations to the Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award recipients! Named in honor of the first @AF_Academy graduate… https://t.co/fiOTVLfrpD
RT @SecAFOfficial: Our military must have the ability to see what is going on around the world, quickly and without interruption...and this…
#USAF #Airmen and firefighters from five #CentralAmerican countries develop bonds with team-building training durin… https://t.co/An5wJIt0B6
#Brrrt! Check out this video of our hawgs training in the Philippines. #Warthog #Pilsung https://t.co/cL8E1oE5Ob
RT @SecAFOfficial: Today, the family & friends of Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" Cole celebrated his legendary life. Dick and the rest of the Dool…
On the 77th anniversary of the #DoolitlleRaid, #USAF leaders, #Airmen, and the family and friends of Lt. Col. Richa… https://t.co/RE4wWGQe4t
.@GenDaveGoldfein to the family of Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" Cole: Your father and grandfather was larger than life. https://t.co/5QnT5IufeN
.@SecAFOfficial pays tribute to the #DoolittleRaiders during the Celebration of Life Ceremony for Lt. Col. Richard… https://t.co/4jlAYfqdCa
The first to take-off from the U.S.S. Hornet on April 18, 1942, is the last to land. We celebrate the memory of… https://t.co/WbkKxHSIY1