No air power without ground power

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
 "It's the life force for aircraft maintenance. If they don't have it they can't troubleshoot their jets and if they can't troubleshoot their jets, they won't be ready to conduct the mission," said Senior Airman Austin Beard, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment journeyman deployed from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

Aerospace Ground Equipment, more commonly known as AGE, is a vital part of what keeps the mission moving here.

Known on the flightline as the Airmen who deliver generators, air-conditioning carts and light carts to aircraft when needed, there is more to AGE than most realize.

"We have up to 19 people on a given shift, including leadership," explained Tech. Sgt. Michael De Trempe, 380 EMXS AGE shift leader and Peoria, Ill., native. "Of those people, we might have three working the ramps and delivering equipment, the rest are busy maintaining the equipment so it's available to be delivered when it's needed."

The small shop conducts an average of 150 periodic inspections monthly, which is similar to a 300,000-mile inspection on your car. An in-depth look at the belts, hoses, oil changes and other safety checks are performed during these inspections.

Additionally, AGE Airmen perform an average of 600 maintenance actions monthly, ensuring equipment is operational and available for the 7,000 deliveries to aircraft during any given month.

"Our equipment provides power, lighting and other essentials for maintainers to do their jobs on the aircraft," Beard, the Seattle, Wash., native said. "For example, some planes use our air conditioners to keep their systems cool enough to run diagnostics during the troubleshooting process. We're here to support the crew chiefs and the mission."

AGE is one of many shops often unnoticed because things typically run smoothly, De Trempe said as he smiled and knocked on his wooden desk. If things don't go smoothly in AGE, it can be a big deal.

"If we don't provide them what they need, there's a strong chance planes won't fly," the technical sergeant deployed from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, explained. "Our job can be extremely difficult, but we make it look easy because we get things done."

One challenge, De Trempe said, was when a change came down requiring the installation of gates on two types of maintenance stands.

"We had to make the changes to ensure safety and compliance, but had to make sure the flightline still had what it needed to get the mission accomplished while these repairs were being done."

The bottom line, according to Beard, is that the equipment is ready and promptly delivered to those who need it on the flightline. This requires both those who perform maintenance in the shop and those who deliver equipment on the flightline.

"From the lowest ranking Airman to the flight chief, everybody has a job to do and they do it well to support the mission," De Trempe said.