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Aircrew safety top priority for AFE shop

Tech. Sgt. Damron Crump, 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment craftsman, fits Maj. Joe Schmitt, 351st Air Refueling Squadron pilot, for chemical gear at RAF Mildenhall, England, Dec. 3, 2019. Aircrew members receive a set of chemical protection gear to wear on missions in environments vulnerable to chemical attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Tech. Sgt. Damron Crump, 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment craftsman, fits Maj. Joe Schmitt, 351st Air Refueling Squadron pilot, for chemical gear at RAF Mildenhall, England, Dec. 3, 2019. Aircrew members receive a set of chemical protection gear to wear on missions in environments vulnerable to chemical attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Tech. Sgt. Alexander Johnston, 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment lead trainer, cleans a helmet visor at RAF Mildenhall, England, Dec. 3, 2019. The AFE shop maintains and inspects equipment such as flight helmets, oxygen masks, survival gear and radios that help pilots and other aircrew complete the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Tech. Sgt. Alexander Johnston, 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment lead trainer, cleans a helmet visor at RAF Mildenhall, England, Dec. 3, 2019. The AFE shop maintains and inspects equipment such as flight helmets, oxygen masks, survival gear and radios that help pilots and other aircrew complete the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Tech. Sgt. Alexander Johnston, 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment lead trainer, retrieves a tool while repairing a piece of equipment at RAF Mildenhall, England, Dec. 3, 2019. Aircrew flight equipment Airmen inspect gear on a regular cycle to confirm it is free of defects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Tech. Sgt. Alexander Johnston, 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment lead trainer, retrieves a tool while repairing a piece of equipment at RAF Mildenhall, England, Dec. 3, 2019. Aircrew flight equipment Airmen inspect gear on a regular cycle to confirm it is free of defects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Airman 1st Class Jacob Conn, 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, packs flotation devices at RAF Mildenhall, England, Dec. 3, 2019. Airmen in the AFE shop clean, maintain and repair the equipment aircrew members need to carry out the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Airman 1st Class Jacob Conn, 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, packs flotation devices at RAF Mildenhall, England, Dec. 3, 2019. Airmen in the AFE shop clean, maintain and repair the equipment aircrew members need to carry out the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Tech. Sgt. Alexander Johnston, 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment lead trainer, tests a quick-don oxygen mask for functionality at RAF Mildenhall, England, Dec. 3, 2019. The AFE Airmen protect aircrew by ensuring their equipment is operational and free of defects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Tech. Sgt. Alexander Johnston, 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment lead trainer, tests a quick-don oxygen mask for functionality at RAF Mildenhall, England, Dec. 3, 2019. The AFE Airmen protect aircrew by ensuring their equipment is operational and free of defects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

RAF MILDENHALL, England --

The 100th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment shop operates behind the scenes to support the aerial refueling mission.

Responsible for repairing and maintaining the flight equipment pilots and boom operators need such as survival resources, oxygen masks, radios, and chemical protection gear, AFE serves an important role in mission success.

“We exist to ensure the safety of the aircrew member,” said Senior Airman Jesse Inman, 100th OSS aircrew flight equipment technician. “You always have someone else’s life in your hands, whether it be pilots, passengers or other AFE members.”

A piece of gear not working during a mission can lead to disaster. Consequently, every piece of equipment AFE places on the aircraft undergoes regular inspections to ensure functionality.

“We have different inspection cycles depending on the equipment,” said Inman. “Quick-don oxygen masks have an inspection cycle of 30 days, and every 120 days, we break them down, clean them, make sure everything is working, and put them back together.”

With aircraft constantly taking off and equipment moving in and out of the shop, planning is a necessity for AFE personnel.

“If you look at our schedule, we’ve forecasted out an entire year how all of our rotations are going to go. We’ve thought through how we’re going to cycle out gear and how we’re going to move it from one plane to the next so we can do our inspections,” said Tech. Sgt. Alexander Johnston, 100th OSS AFE lead trainer. “We always operate with the mindset of looking forward.”  

Whether it be inspecting an oxygen mask or examining the integrity of a flotation device, the AFE Airmen understand the importance of the work they perform.

“No job is too small,” said Inman.  “You may think what you do doesn’t impact the mission, but in fact it really does.”