JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
Like an unsung hero, behind the scenes and out of sight the Metals Technology Flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis performs basic and major aircraft structural damage repairs as well as manufacture tools to support the 1st Fighter Wing’s mission.
“Measure twice, cut once.” This is the moto each metal technician operates by, ensuring the precision of their craft meets the high standards required, as a simple mistake could cost a pilot or aircrew member their life.
“Other jobs can say on a daily basis that they impact lives,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jordan Mann, 1st Maintenance Squadron metals technology journeyman. “But here, we do a lot of safety construction for other shops and a lot of process refinement and that can really make you feel good about yourself.”
According to Mann, the bulk of the responsibilities as metal shop technicians is to repair bushings and remove difficult bolts that maintainers are unable to extract themselves.
In addition to bolts and bushings, technicians also repair anything from aircraft boarding ladders, flare carts and manufacture tools for crew chiefs and other agencies across the installation.
“If [maintenance] brakes something like their tools, instead of ordering a new one or sending it out to get fixed, which could take months to years, they can bring it to us. In a couple hours we will have it ready for them,” said Mann. “A couple months ago, when there were issues with weapons rails that were discharging. (The maintainers) came to us and asked for a gauge that would show whether it’s locked in or not. Within a day, we had almost 80 of them produced.”
According to Mann, technicians must be very meticulous on their measurements, especially when performing any job for an aircraft, as the tolerances of the measurement can only be off by a third of the diameter of a human hair.
“We definitely are able of saving the Air Force a lot of money and we have done it before,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Victor Chavez, 1st MXS Fabrication assistant flight chief. “We are always innovative, we are always looking for different ways to make things better and to help out everybody because customer service is a big thing for us. Anything you can think of, we can make.”