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MX Dirt Pilots
Airman 1st Class Michael Romanyak, 2nd Maintenance Squadron, cuts a rivet in the tail section of a B-52H Stratofortress on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., July 2. Romanyak enjoys riding dirt bikes and competing in local Motocross competitions in his spare time. According to Romanyak, the activity helps him come back to work refreshed and ready to support the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Micaiah Anthony)(RELEASED)
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MX Dirt Pilots

Posted 7/3/2012   Updated 7/26/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Micaiah Anthony
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

7/3/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- After a long week working on the flightline, in hangars and offices, a few of Barksdale's Airmen unwind by soaring through the Ark-La-Tex skies, but not by aircraft.

The small group of Airmen 'catch some air' by hitting the local tracks on dirt bikes.

"There are about 10 people on base that ride," said Airman 1st Class Michael Romanyak, 2nd Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance technician. "There are Airmen from metals tech, vehicle operations, aircraft ground equipment and weather."

In order to participate in this activity, Airmen are required to go through the motorcycle safety course on base, along with having a high-risk activity briefing by their commander.

These Airmen use riding as a way to unwind after a long week on the job which allows them to focus on supporting the mission.

"When I get back to work on Monday I'm fresh and ready to go, it keeps my mental focus strong," said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Constantin, 2nd Logistics Readiness Squadron assistant NCO in charge of equipment support. "When I come out here on the weekend, I can ride and let go of the stress that's built up during the week."

Riding dirt bikes to relax is important for these Airmen due to the severity and importance of the mission they support.

"Our job is important," said Romanyak. "We keep jets flying so they can fly their sorties and complete the mission."

Riding and supporting Barksdale's mission go hand-in-hand according to Romanyak, especially when it comes to knowing one's limits.

"You have to know your limits on a dirt bike and at work," he said. "With riding, if you don't know your limits you can get hurt. With maintenance, if you don't know your limits you can end up messing something up on the aircraft and end up hurting someone else."

From providing maintenance and inspecting their dirt bikes to taking inventory and maintaining aircraft, these Airmen use their training in their everyday life.

"You have to have attention to detail; I inspect everything before I go ride," said Constantin. "If not then the end result could be bad. At work we keep inventory of all of our equipment. If we don't pay attention we can end up spending a lot more money than we need to."

Riding not only helps with attention to detail, but plays a huge role in physical fitness as well. Having scored a 95 on his last physical fitness assessment, there is no doubt that moving a 250 pound bike in mid-flight is a good workout for Romanyak.

''It's really physically demanding and it keeps me in shape," he said. "I like riding and then working out during the week, they both help me with my PT test."

At the end of a track weekend, Barksdale Airmen hang up their riding gear and put on their uniforms to head back to work refreshed, relaxed and ready to support the mission.

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