AGE: more than a behind-the-scenes operation

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  • By Jacob McGuire, Staff Writer

The Aerospace Ground Equipment flight at Tinker Air Force Base is a silent but important partner, in the overall mission.

According to the AGE section chief, Tech. Sgt. Ryan Dunlap, the flight is within the 552nd Maintenance Group, and maintains equipment such as hydraulic test stands, diesel generators, gas turbine generators, air conditioning units, heaters, jacks, maintenance stands, nitrogen carts, lights and more to support the base’s aircraft.

The flight is made up of four maintenance sections: production support, equipment dispatch, and two maintenance crews, the Red Tails and Team Ghost. Dunlap said there are 90 technicians within the maintenance crews.

AGE primarily provides support for the Boeing E-3 Sentry, or Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, as well as the U.S. Navy’s Boeing E-6 Mercury, but has the ability to support others as well, Dunlap said.

“These people are the backbone of flight line operations at Tinker,” Dunlap said. “They ensure the equipment gets to the aircraft maintainers, who work on, maintain and test the aircraft while it is on the ground.”

Staff Sgt. Jacob Winters, the floor lead for maintenance, says there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that no one ever knows about. Winters is responsible for all unscheduled maintenance coming in/out for his team.

“I think there’s a common misconception about AGE technicians, that we just deliver the equipment,” he said. “That’s not completely true. What’s not seen is what we do to maintain that equipment and ensure it is in working condition.”

AGE is responsible for 358 pieces of AGE valued at $34 million, and averages 2,200 equipment dispatches, 81 maintenance actions and 162 periodic and phase inspections every month.

“We’re a 24/7 operation. There is no air power without ground power,” said AGE Flight Chief, Master Sgt. Ryan C. Tombre.