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920th aircrew flight equipment team outfit flying operations

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Darius Sostre-Miroir, 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
  • 920th Rescue Wing

When 920th Rescue Wing aircrew take off  they require a specific type of equipment that will keep them safe and allow them to accomplish their missions successfully. To outfit them with the right gear, the 920th Operations Squadron aircrew flight equipment team answers that call to deliver an important part of what is needed for any rescue mission.

AFE is a team of 27 Airmen whose main role is to maintain, test, and inspect the flight gear used by all aircrew. The customers of AFE include the wing’s two flying squadrons; the 301st Rescue Squadron, which operate the HH-60G Pave Hawk, and the 39th Rescue Squadron, which operate the C-130J Combat King II.

“We work on the all the gear that the aircrew wear on their daily flights so that they can use it in any situation, weather that’s aircraft evacuation, landing in enemy territory, or contacting help for rescue,” said Technical Sgt. Edward Armit, 920th OSS aircrew flight equipment craftsman.

The AFE team takes part in the daily building, preserving, and examining over 110 pieces of aircrew flight gear that consist of all equipment issued to crew members. This equipment can include radios, helmets, vests, and life preservers for flights over water. There is also specialty equipment including gunner’s belts and night vision goggles for night flying operations.

“Aircrew use their helmets, survival vests, and radios every day. We make sure that their equipment is good to go and that we can fix any issues that might come up with that gear prior to preparing them for their missions,” said Armit.

AFE’s inspection processes are rigorous. They carefully check thousands of pieces of equipment budgeted at over seven million dollars to provide mission-ready equipment for the wing. Annual inspections for life vests and life rafts ensure functionality and that no air can escape. Inspections for helmets include an oxygen test to guarantee the seal is intact and that air can flow from the aircraft to the crew.

Radios are inspected to ensure they can contact all frequencies required and that their batteries can hold charges. In addition, parachutes that would be used for emergency evacuation are inspected and repaired and repacked for aircrew use if required.

AFE interacts with aircrew daily to prepare them for missions. When they are not actively inspecting and maintaining flight equipment, they are issuing or repairing it as well. When aircrew prepare for a mission their gear is checked for proper use and if any issues are found AFE takes over. Gear is quickly fixed, tested to ensure its working correctly, refit, and then returned to the crew for use.

“I come to work every day working hand in hand with aircrew to get the job done. Knowing what this squadron’s mission is makes me feel like I’m crucial to its success,” said Senior Airman Brian McKithen, 920th OSS aircrew flight equipment helper.