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AGE Inspections Airmen keep a watchful eye

By Airman 1st Class Andrew Moua 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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Maintenance and upkeep of aerospace ground equipment is vital to get B-52H Stratofortress bombers into the air, and deliver precision munitions to the battlefield.

The 2nd Maintenance Squadron AGE Flight inspections section provides upkeep and preventative maintenance to more than 600 pieces of AGE. They comply with time compliance technical orders to regular check-ups that ensure equipment runs, and performs as expected.

"The mission of the inspections Airmen is to find any discrepancies, and provide a quick fix to equipment that comes through," said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Larson, 2 MXS AGE flight NCO in-charge of inspections. "We have Airmen split among four cells dedicated to specific types of equipment, who receive up to 60 pieces a month. Most of our work deals with preventative maintenance, ranging from oil changes and refilling hydraulic fluid to special inspections like hydrostatic testing for air tanks."

There are 22 Airmen who tend to the various types of equipment that range from generators, heaters, bomb lifts and munitions trailers. With a section this small, the work load can, at times, be overwhelming. Despite the busy schedule and complicated equipment, Airmen manage to accomplish their mission with high morale.

"I work in cell four, which deals with bomb lifts, self-generating nitrogen carts and flood lights," said Airman 1st Class Kevin Henson, 2 MXS AGE Flight. "You can be in the shop or out on the flightline, and get to see some interesting stuff. The work is always changing, and that's what I like about the job. One minute I'll be working on flood lights, and the next I'll be inspecting a bomb lift."

Airmen spend about a month in each cell before moving on to the next, this ensures that AGE Airmen get a detailed look into each type of equipment used on the flightline.

"Airmen spend five months in the inspections section, learning the ins and outs of every piece of equipment," said Tech. Sgt. Brian Condie, 2 MXS AGE flight Assistant NCO in-charge of Inspections. "Here is where they learn the most about the equipment. It's like a car, learning front to back, getting inside and learning the inner workings, and being able to better assess and repair each piece of equipment."

Inspections are split between phase-one and phase-two inspections. Phase-one inspections are done every six months, and include changing air filters, changing oil and replacing wheel bearings. Phase-two inspections are done every 12 months, and are more complicated and in-depth. This involves dismantling a particular piece of equipment to see every component, and determine what needs to be replaced or fixed.

"Phase-one inspections are your regular every day maintenance, like checking your car's oil," Condie said. "Phase-two inspections are where we get into the meat of the maintenance. This is where preventative maintenance is done to keep equipment running longer, and increases the time between the next inspection."

Although the inspections section is able to maintain AGE as well as determine what may be wrong with a particular piece, they aren't doing this all on their own. The main maintenance section is always ready to lend a hand in case major maintenance is needed.

"If we find something that will take longer than a day to fix or something that needs an immediate fix, we send it to the maintenance section," said Larson. "The synergy between our sections is vital, not only to us, but to the flightline. Without us, it makes it much harder for aircraft to get into the air."

Like the saying within the AGE flight goes, there is no air power without ground power.