Safety first then fly

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Scott Saldukas
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
When someone thinks about flying equipment, chances are they think of the aircraft and it's electronics. They probably forget about the most important safety aspect for the flyers.

The aircrew flight equipment, which allows pilots to be fitted correctly with safety equipment that allows them to fly safely and ensure standards are met if there was a need to eject is equally as vital as the aircraft itself in ensuring the pilots safety.

Since a key part of Laughlin's mission is flying training, it has one of the busiest airfields with more than 700 student and pilots all in need of the attention to detail that the 47th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment section can give them.

"The mission at Laughlin is a little different, mostly in volume," said Master Sgt. Jennifer Cirricione, 47th OSS Aircrew Flight Equipment superintendent. "It's one of the largest in the Air Education and Training Command with somewhere around 700 students and pilots."

The 30 person unit is divided into three sections to deal with the large number of flyers.

First is the fit section where all new students come to get fit for their initial gear, helmet and mask, harness and anti-gravity suit adjusted to fit each student. The second section inspects equipment and makes repairs when needed.

"The helmet, mask and harness are due for inspection every 30 days. This means inspecting around 35 to 45 sets of equipment daily," Sergeant Cirricione said.

Section two also handles seat survival kits for the T-6 and T-38 aircraft where they are inspected and packed. Personnel from this section also pre-flight the aircrew flight equipment for all of the T-1 aircraft that are scheduled to fly that day.

Last, there is the parachute section.

"This is where the T-6 and T-38 ejection seat parachutes are inspected and repacked. This section also inspects, packs and repairs flotation equipment like life preservers and designs and manufactures equipment protection covers," Sergeant Cirricione said.

While the unit has a fast, non-stop schedule supporting the Laughlin mission, the Airmen here take pride in what they do.

"At the end of the day my unit helps train the best pilots in the world," said Staff Sgt. Emmanuel Santana, 47th OSS Aircrew Flight Equipment craftsman. "We make sure that all pilots are fitted and are comfortable with their equipment and make sure if the day comes when they have to use their equipment, it will work."

Putting their best foot forward allows the Airmen of the aircrew flight equipment unit to be confident with their work and know they have a positive influence on the mission.

"We are life savers. If the student and or pilot ever have to punch out of their aircraft they can rely on us to bring them home safe," Sergeant Santana said. "It is just a good feeling knowing that you saved a life if you were the one that inspected that equipment that was used."