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339th AFE
Senior Airman Stephen Roberts, aircrew flight equipment technician, tears down, cleans, reassembles and tests oxygen masks and flight helmets in the life support shop for the 339th Flight Test Squadron. This process is done every 30 days to ensure the helmets are in good working condition. (U. S. Air Force photo/Sue Sapp)
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'Your life is our business'

Posted 2/15/2013   Updated 2/21/2013 Email story   Print story


by Sue Sapp
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

2/15/2013 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga.  -- The 339th Flight Test Squadron's 43 aircrew members -- comprised of pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers -- perform test flights on F-15s, C-130s and C-5s here before they are returned to their home bases.

During those flights, the aircraft are put through their paces to ensure they'll hold up to the rigors of any mission -- regardless if it's in a combat zone or in an area in need of humanitarian support.

The squadron's four-person Aircrew Flight Equipment Shop makes sure the test aircrews are protected.

They're responsible for inspecting, maintaining and repairing lifesaving equipment such as parachutes, anti-G suits, helmets, oxygen masks, survival vests and safety harnesses.

"The 339 AFE personnel are unique in that they maintain their skills in three different types of aircraft," said Lt. Col. Dan Badia, 339th Flight Test Squadron operations director. "We depend heavily on our AFE personnel; when we use the equipment they maintain, it has to work 100 percent of the time."

Tech. Sgt. Brandi Bray, AFE technician, said the techs check parachutes every 30 days.

That involves checking the deployment mechanism, an oxygen bottle, signal beacon and making sure the small survival kit within the chute is intact. They also repack the parachutes every 180 days, which takes six to eight hours.

Some of the equipment -- like anti-G suits -- is custom-fitted to an individual.

"The suits blow air to keep circulation moving so the pilot doesn't pass out while pulling Gs," said Master Sgt. Sara Glass, an AFE technician. "It's important to test for pressure and leaks."

AFE techs conduct aircrew continuation or refresher training, including water survival, land survival and parachute descent.

"In an emergency, aircrews put their lives in our hands," Glass said. "If we don't do our jobs correctly, it puts lives at risk. We have to constantly stay on top, one step ahead and train properly. As our motto states, 'Your life is our business.'"

2/27/2013 11:58:56 AM ET
A sincere thanks to all AFE folks who do all that they do. I have to say that I have been misled all these years. I was under the impression that Speed Jeans were there to keep blood from sinking below my equator. But if they really aid in circulation I can always squeeze out the old gouge to make room for the new. Goofs aside thanks again for your hard work and dedication.
JC, Wash DC
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