Dover AFB female innovators create bump cap for female maintainers

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dieondiere Jefferies
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Innovation is a never-ending mission for the Airmen of the United States Air Force. Recently, two Team Dover aircraft maintainers, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sheila Moody, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Air Force Repair Enhancement Program aircraft structural journeyman and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cortnee Madrid, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron dock chief, took a massive step by designing a female bump cap.  

A bump cap is a piece of safety equipment used to protect the heads of Airmen who work on aircraft. Currently, female Airmen must wear their hair in a bun while on the flightline, creating a problem when wearing the classic bump cap. 

“We have to wear our hair in a bun, otherwise the tools we use have the potential to rip our hair out,” said Moody. “We had to wear [the caps on top of our buns], with maintenance most of the time we’re looking up, so it would obstruct our view.”  

The new design has a larger opening in the back, allowing the buns of the women using the hat to fit through it comfortably. 

The new bump cap design began when Moody had a conversation with Col. Bary Flack, 436th Mission Generation Group commander. She explained the dilemma she and many other female Airmen were having with the cap.  

“I brought up the bump cap issue to Col. Flack,” said Moody. “Col. Flack told me if I could come up with a solution he would figure out how to get it onto the flightline for us.” 

Madrid assisted Moody in the brainstorming process and planning of the new bump cap, allowing their abstract ideas to become more concrete. 

“I presented the idea to  [Moody],” said Madrid. “I think we really ran with it [when it comes to the] bump cap inserts as a lot of the components were already made. It was just a matter of creating it in our camo pattern for maintenance.” 

The process to create the first model for the cap began a year ago. Moody and Madrid went through at least four vendors before receiving a working model of the first female bump cap design. Moody worked with the vendors while Madrid worked with feedback and the administrative portions of the project. 

“It started out as a female-only bump cap before later transitioning to the unisex design,” said Moody.  

The unisex cap is currently being used only at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, and has been issued to female maintainers within the 436th Mission Generation Group. Moody and Madrid have also created a second-generation bump cap design that is currently being manufactured and will be used at Dover AFB and Travis AFB, California as test beds.