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Barksdale’s crew chiefs keep the birds in the sky

Senior Airman Colin Harding, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, performs a postflight inspection on a B-52H Stratofortress at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., March 19, 2020. Barksdale's crew chiefs are responsible for identifying any issues that the aircraft might have sustained during its mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)

Senior Airman Colin Harding, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, performs a postflight inspection on a B-52H Stratofortress at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., March 19, 2020. Barksdale's crew chiefs are responsible for identifying any issues that the aircraft might have sustained during its mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)

Airman 1st Class Jean Labesque, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance assistant dedicated crew chief performs maintenance on a B-52H Stratofortress at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., March 19, 2020. It’s the responsibility of Barksdale’s crew chiefs to coordinate all necessary maintenance in order to keep the aircraft in war fighting form. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)

Airman 1st Class Jean Labesque, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance assistant dedicated crew chief performs maintenance on a B-52H Stratofortress at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., March 19, 2020. It’s the responsibility of Barksdale’s crew chiefs to coordinate all necessary maintenance in order to keep the aircraft in war fighting form. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)

Airman 1st Class Jabari Coner, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, performs a postflight inspection on a B-52H Stratofortress at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., March 19, 2020. Barksdale's crew chiefs are responsible for identifying any issues that the aircraft might have sustained during its mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)

Airman 1st Class Jabari Coner, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, performs a postflight inspection on a B-52H Stratofortress at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., March 19, 2020. Barksdale's crew chiefs are responsible for identifying any issues that the aircraft might have sustained during its mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)

Airman 1st Class Jabari Coner, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, performs a postflight inspection on a B-52H Stratofortress at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., March 19, 2020. It’s the responsibility of Barksdale’s crew chiefs to coordinate all necessary maintenance in order to keep the aircraft in war fighting form. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)

Airman 1st Class Jabari Coner, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, performs a postflight inspection on a B-52H Stratofortress at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., March 19, 2020. It’s the responsibility of Barksdale’s crew chiefs to coordinate all necessary maintenance in order to keep the aircraft in war fighting form. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)

Senior Airman Colin Harding, left, and Airman 1st Class Jabari Coner, right, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chiefs, prepare a B-52H Stratofortress for postflight maintenance at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., March 19, 2020. It’s the responsibility of Barksdale’s crew chiefs to coordinate all necessary maintenance in order to keep the aircraft in war fighting form. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)

Senior Airman Colin Harding, left, and Airman 1st Class Jabari Coner, right, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chiefs, prepare a B-52H Stratofortress for postflight maintenance at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., March 19, 2020. It’s the responsibility of Barksdale’s crew chiefs to coordinate all necessary maintenance in order to keep the aircraft in war fighting form. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

It’s not pixie dust that turns 185,000 lbs. of machinery into a lethal, combat-ready B-52H Stratofortress prepared to fly at a moments notice, no, it’s a crew chief.

With the task of keeping B-52’s in tip-top shape, it’s the responsibility of Barksdale’s crew chiefs to coordinate all necessary maintenance in order to keep the aircraft in war fighting form.

“We’re the first ones to touch the aircraft when it lands and we’re the last to touch it when it takes off,” said Airman 1st Class Jabari Coner, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. “We’re the ones telling the aircrew the jet’s good to fly. Their lives are in our hands.”

Throughout the course of a mission, a B-52 can encounter malfunctions, sustain damage or endure simple every day wear-and-tear. It’s up to the crew chiefs to identify what issues are present and how they need to be fixed.

“When an aircraft lands, we are in charge of doing all the inspections wing-tip to wing-tip, nose to tail, inside and out,” said Senior Airman Colin Harding, 2nd AMXS crew chief. “Then we handle all of the servicing forms, documentation and overall upkeep of the jet.”

During an inspection, crew chiefs look for everything from loose rivets to damage from bird strikes. Once everything is inspected, crew chiefs can then coordinate with other specialty components of the 2nd AMXS to address the issues.
Once all necessary maintenance is complete, the crew chiefs will do another inspection to ensure the aircraft is ready to fly.

“At the end of the day, we’re the ones who are signing off to say that this jet is good to fly,” Coner said. “Without us jets couldn’t fly and that’s a lot of responsibility.”

With the great responsibility, comes a great deal of pride. It takes many long hours of laborious work to ensure that the aircrew have a safe aircraft to fly, but it’s work that Barksdale’s crew chiefs are proud to do.

“We put a lot of work into these jets,” Harding said, “No kidding, you put blood, sweat and tears into making the mission happen.”

Whether it’s enduring Barksdale’s unforgiving summer heat or a nationwide pandemic, no matter the circumstances, no matter the obstacles, Barksdale’s crew chiefs get the mission done.

“The mission still has to happen,” Harding said. “We all work together to show the world that nothing's going to stop us, we are always going to do what we have to do to get the mission done.”

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