Training today’s Airmen for tomorrow’s success

  • Published
  • By Airman Kelsey Martinez
  • 914th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Although the work may seem monotonous at times to some Air Force maintainers, it is vital that each step of the process is executed with precision. In efforts to ensure this is done, there are consistent steps to enhance safety precautions by continuously training and preparing. All the while, building an indispensably capable team, prepared to complete the mission.

The 914th Air Refueling Wing’s mission is to recruit, train and retain an unrivaled force ready to fly, fight and win tonight. Airmen from the 914th Maintenance Squadron (MXS), Niagara Falls ARS, repair and maintain the KC-135 Stratotanker. The aircraft’s success of providing aerial refueling and global reach depends greatly on the work done on the ground, preflight.

“There are a lot of opportunities to learn,” said Master Sgt. Art Fijalkowski a 914th MXS aircraft fuel system non-commissioned officer in charge.

For him, it is crucial to feel confident in the competency of the airmen in his shop to get the job done right the first time around.

“I have a great team,” he said. “The new, young Airmen are my future replacement so it’s important to train them correctly from the start.”

Each Airman attends technical school after completion of basic military training, along with continuous on the job training throughout their career.

“It doesn’t have to be when it’s too late and something has gone wrong to learn,” he said. “It’s about being prepared enough to ensure things are in order before taking off.”

Airman 1st Class Tyler Gordon, a 914th MXS KC-135 aircraft maintainer, explained that after everything he has learned, he views the aircraft in a whole new light by realizing how much work is required to keep the KC-135 Stratotanker operating properly.

“They really do the bulk of the work,” said Fijalkowski. “My Airmen are the ones who are hands-on, learning everything they can about the KC-135.”

For Gordon, the exposure to the aircraft and different problems that may arise is one of his favorite parts of on the job training because it’s much more than what he has read in his training modules. For him it’s about critically thinking and applying what he has learned to fix the problem with his team.

“I haven’t been here very long, but I can see that I have great leadership and guidance in the shop,” he said. “The atmosphere here is awesome.”

With proper preparation, implementing periodic drills and exercises, and issuing the necessary equipment and gear, safety remains a top priority.

“I want to be sure that people are safe because there is a lot that can go wrong,” said Fijalkowski. “This is why each and every job is so important to the mission.”

Fijalkowski expressed the importance of getting to know the people he works with in order to be successful.

“We are all here learning together,” he said. “We accomplish the mission together, as a team.”

Therefore, if even one person fails, the mission can potentially fail. However, when an Airman succeeds there is a ripple effect of success and growth to follow.