EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Airmen working outside on the flight line experience extreme heat conditions during the summers in Florida while still executing their duties. The 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron issued a hot-weather short alternative uniform to 300 Airmen to help combat the hot weather while also boosting morale.
“Other units in hot weather locations were pursuing the shorts options for their flight line maintainers,” said Maj. Josephine Beacham, 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. “It is a good alternative for the hot weather environment we experience during the summer timeframe.”
After 96th Test Wing counterparts at Eglin Air Force Base began pursuing the alternative, the 33rd AMXS followed suit, seeing the change as an excellent way to boost quality of life. That, along with suggestions coming directly from the Airmen on the line, led 33rd Fighter Wing to approve the shorts alternative.
“I feel that shorts are an important option that helps keep the Airmen cool and more flexible,” said Staff Sgt. Denver T. Thetford, a 33rd FW F-35A Lightning II dedicated Crew Chief. “I believe that I can perform my job better than in the normal Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform.”
Airmen at the 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron are authorized to wear the shorts from June through September, with the ability of group and wing leadership to request extended dates based on current weather conditions.
The new uniform items were only issued to flight line workers as they are the primary Airmen experiencing the weather conditions on an extended basis. The shorts option is not mandatory, but the option gives Airmen more ability to control their work environment while improving their ability to execute the mission.
“I feel they help Airmen with their performances because not only does our morale go up with the ability to wear the shorts, but it allows personnel to be cooler and more comfortable when working on hot or muggy days,” said Senior Airman Kenneth Baker, a 33rd FW F-35A Lightning II dedicated crew chief.
Airmen on the flightline are still required to wear the rest of their standard equipment with the change having no impact on launch procedures or required equipment needed on the line.
The idea for shorts on the flight line originated at the 95th Aircraft Maintenance Unit from Tyndall Air Force Base while deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base in southwest Asia. While deployed, the Aircraft Maintenance Unit there was permitted to wear shorts. Upon return, the unit reached out for local guidance authorizing the shorts to integrate them at the home station.
With the move officially approved, maintenance units across the Air Force began following suit, putting their Airmen’s needs first to improve their work environment and the mission.
“It allows them to focus more on the task and not the discomfort of being hot,” said Beacham. “I think from a mental or moral perspective. It makes them feel better and happier since their physical comfort level has increased.”