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Aircrew flight equipment: no masking safety

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan McCullough, an 8th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment (AFE) journeyman assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, performs maintenance on an oxygen mask, May 2, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. AFE technicians must perform extensive work on each piece of equipment to ensure maximum safety for pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan McCullough, an 8th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment (AFE) journeyman assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, performs maintenance on an oxygen mask, May 2, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. AFE technicians must perform extensive work on each piece of equipment to ensure maximum safety for pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan McCullough and Senior Airman Daniel Godfrey, 8th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment (AFE) journeymen assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, inspect flight equipment, May 2, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. AFE technicians check each piece of equipment a pilot needs and makes sure it is in proper working condition before each sortie. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan McCullough and Senior Airman Daniel Godfrey, 8th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment (AFE) journeymen assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, inspect flight equipment, May 2, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. AFE technicians check each piece of equipment a pilot needs and makes sure it is in proper working condition before each sortie. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan McCullough, an 8th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment (AFE) journeyman assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, inspects a flight helmet, May 2, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. AFE technicians perform inspections of pilots' equipment daily to ensure it functions properly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan McCullough, an 8th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment (AFE) journeyman assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, inspects a flight helmet, May 2, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. AFE technicians perform inspections of pilots' equipment daily to ensure it functions properly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan McCullough, an 8th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment (AFE) journeyman assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, performs maintenance on an oxygen mask, while 80th Fighter Squadron pilots, also assigned to Kunsan, prepare for a sortie, May 2, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The fast-paced tempo of RED FLAG-Alaska 16-1 keeps the AFE shop working all day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan McCullough, an 8th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment (AFE) journeyman assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, performs maintenance on an oxygen mask, while 80th Fighter Squadron pilots, also assigned to Kunsan, prepare for a sortie, May 2, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The fast-paced tempo of RED FLAG-Alaska 16-1 keeps the AFE shop working all day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan McCullough, an 8th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, signs a service date on a strobe light, May 2, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Strobe lights are used to signal for rescue once the pilot has ejected and is awaiting extraction. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan McCullough, an 8th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, signs a service date on a strobe light, May 2, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Strobe lights are used to signal for rescue once the pilot has ejected and is awaiting extraction. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan McCullough and Senior Airman Daniel Godfrey, 8th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment (AFE) journeymen assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, perform a daily inspection on flight equipment, May 2, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. AFE technicians must perform extensive work on each piece of equipment to ensure maximum safety for pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan McCullough and Senior Airman Daniel Godfrey, 8th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment (AFE) journeymen assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, perform a daily inspection on flight equipment, May 2, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. AFE technicians must perform extensive work on each piece of equipment to ensure maximum safety for pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

“Everything we do when it comes to maintaining flight equipment is crucial,” said Senior Airman Elijah Lee, an 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan. “If we fail to double-check this equipment it can easily become a domino effect and cause concern for the pilots if it doesn’t deploy properly.”

Each visiting unit brought its own AFE members, but working in the same environment means sharing knowledge from different bases, countries and services.

“This is my first time at RED FLAG-Alaska and the pace is definitely higher than home station,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan McCullough, an 8th OSS AFE journeyman assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of South Korea. “We always strive to keep aircrew alive, but we also take back a lot of useful information to improve our processes back home.”  

Shop members maintain pilots’ helmets, masks, G-suits, survival vests and harnesses, and planning for RED FLAG-Alaska meant thinking ahead to be equipped for anything.

“Pilots have two helmets in case one becomes unserviceable, so they won’t lose any training time,” explained Lee. “Anything can happen between the time pilots leave our shop and when they board the aircraft, so we need to be prepared no matter what.”

Despite the fast-paced turnover, AFE Airmen keep a positive attitude about their job and contribution to the people they serve.

“I enjoy my job because I get to see a whole different side of the mission and contribute to winning wars,” said Lee. “My favorite part is communicating with the pilots and hearing their stories. They treat all of us like one of their own and it makes me feel great knowing they trust me.”