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No Airpower Without Ground Power

  • Published
  • By Capt. Kevin Heineman, PAO
Each time a military aircraft takes off from or touches down at Colonel Bud Day Field at the 185th, the flightline is abuzz with constant traffic dedicated to keeping those planes up in the air safely. Huddled in among the assorted groups of people is a shop of 14 personnel whose mission it is to keep the aircraft flying by ensuring the equipment needed to maintain the aircraft is on-hand and in working order. Anytime an aircraft takes off or lands, Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) is there to provide on-demand, reliable equipment to the aircraft.

The motto for AGE is "No Airpower Without Ground Power." Their mission is to provide immediate and responsive flightline support to aircraft operations both at home and abroad, and to service and maintain the ground support equipment for the 185th KC-135's. The 185th AGE flight provides equipment such as generators for aircraft power, equipment to heat and cool the aircraft, air compressors, floodlight equipment, and maintenance stands to the maintenance crews working on the planes.

AGE personnel also perform periodic inspections on both powered and non-powered types of equipment as well as operational checks and maintenance. Some of the equipment they oversee, such as the hydraulic test stand, enables the aircraft crew chiefs to work on the aircraft without having to power the plane up.

According to Clark, at the hub of the daily activities is the GO-81 computer maintenance tracking system. This computer system keeps track of the inspections needed for each of the nearly 170 pieces of equipment used by AGE personnel, tracks the historical maintenance on each piece of equipment, and lends technical support on how to fix faulty equipment. Whether it's powered or non-powered, the equipment they provide is essential to performing aircraft maintenance. "The ability to maintain the aircraft is essential to the mission and AGE provides and repairs equipment daily to make that happen," said Tech. Sgt. Steve Kanaly, 18-year veteran of the 185th AGE shop from Yankton, SD.

The pilots fly the aircraft, the crew chiefs keep them serviced, but the AGE crew enables it all to happen. "Our purpose is to provide the aircraft with power and equipment so the maintenance folks can accomplish their mission," said Senior Airman Josh Holbrook from Dunlap, Iowa and who also works at Tyson Foods in Denison, Iowa as a maintenance worker. AGE technicians are some of the most diversified and well-trained "Jack of all Trades" mechanics in the Air Force. The AGE technician must stay proficient on a variety of systems; everything from hydraulics, pneumatics, air conditioning and heating systems, to diesel and turbine-powered generators. A fully qualified AGE mechanic is trained to troubleshoot, tear down, and rebuild any system at a moment's notice - from the simplest engine assemblies to the most complex generators. AGE technicians do everything on the equipment from simple oil checks to complete equipment engine teardown and rebuild.

AGE technicians and their equipment go wherever air power is needed, and the training they get working on equipment at their home station during the drill weekend allows each of the AGE technicians go anywhere in the world to perform their duties. "When we went to Guam we did the same thing there as we would do here at the 185th, but it was nice to see the beaches and enjoy Senior Airman Jesse Prichard from the AGE the nice weather in Guam," said Holbrook.