SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
Imagine working on something worth approximately $30 million and being responsible for the safety of another person’s life. For the crew chiefs of Joint Task Force-Bravo’s 612th Air Base Squadron, that’s just another day at work as they make sure heavy aircraft landing at Soto Cano Airfield can safely complete their missions.
When four volunteers from various specialties on JTF-Bravo were issued headsets and hearing protection by the 612 ABS’s transient aircraft section on March 2, they became crew chiefs for the day.
Led by Air Force Staff Sgt. Sean Sullivan, 612 ABS Transient Aircraft NCOIC, the “Crew Chief for a Day” program aims to get other servicemembers from JTF-Bravo to come out to the airfield and experience a day in the life of a U.S. Air Force crew chief.
“Here we have joint operations so [Air Force] also works with Army and Marines. We bring in all their supplies on Air Force heavy aircraft,” said Sullivan, “so it’s good to get out of the office see how other jobs contribute to the overall mission here at JTF-Bravo.”
Every week a U.S. Air Force heavy cargo aircraft delivers supplies to Soto Cano Air Base, and takes cargo back to the U.S. as needed.
The participants started the day with a safety briefing and question and answer session before the aircraft was scheduled to land. Then they performed a Foreign Object Debris walk and watched how cargo is loaded and unloaded onto a C-130 Hercules aircraft.
“Today we saw a C-130 and what the crew chiefs do during daily operations,” said Senior Airman Julie Kae, 612 ABS weather forecaster, “My favorite part was seeing Soto Cano from the top of a C-130 and also seeing how everyone’s jobs come together to support the mission. It was not something I get to experience every day.”
Air Force Staff Sgt. Alisha Garrette got to accomplish one of her life’s goals:
“By far the coolest part of today was when I got to marshal and direct the C-130 after it landed,” said Garrette, “Using the directional wands I had to make sure the aircraft stayed on course and parked on the proper spot on the ramp.”
Crew chiefs play a huge role in every U.S. Air Force heavy aircraft that leaves the runway here.
“I sit at a desk every day at a screen, projecting the weather. By coming out here today I got to go out and see the aircraft that my job helps protect,” said Kae.
All participants were grateful for the experience that not many people get during their careers.
The 612 ABS plans to have this event scheduled every quarter. Typically six participants are invited to become a “Crew Chief for a Day.”