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NEWS | May 25, 2021

Airpower Starts on the Ground

By 1st Lt. Paige Skinner 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Aviation Maintenance Technician Day, May 24th, is a day to celebrate maintainers enabling air superiority and rapid global mobility.

This day was first declared a holiday by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2001 and was made official by a Congressional vote in 2008. May 24 was selected to honor Charles Edward Taylor's birthday; the man who created the engine for the Wright Brothers aircraft. 

At JBLE-Langley, F-22’s are supported by a Total Force team of Airmen comprised of active duty members from the 1st Maintenance Group and Virginia Air National Guard members from the 192nd Maintenance Group.  The team works together, day and night, to ensure the world’s premiere fifth-generation fighters remain ready to deploy globally at a moment’s notice in support of our national security objectives.  Every year, these airmen work tirelessly to generate, launch, and recover more than 11,000 sorties to keep America’s First Team sharp, and ready to provide combat airpower for America.

Within any maintenance group there are two different types of maintainers: flightline and backshop. Backshop maintainers work on engines, nondestructive inspection, aerospace ground equipment, fuels or low observables. Flightline maintainers include weapons, tactical aircraft maintenance- crew chiefs, or avionics specialists working on and launching F-22 Raptors. 

"I equate [flightline maintainers] to a race car pit crew. They do what is needed to keep the car running," said Master Sgt. Robert Berman, Detachment 218, 372nd Training Squadron, F-22 Raptor nondestructive inspection instructor. "The backshop is what I would equate to taking a car to a garage to get something fixed."

Backshop sections spend their days repairing parts or components that cannot be fixed out on the flightline. Flightline sections operate from the flightline for their day-to-day operations working on and launching aircraft. To put it simply, aircraft do not fly without the efforts of young men and women in the maintenance career field.

"Being a maintainer is not a glamorous job, but it is very rewarding. From the time the aircraft takes off to the time it lands it is important to know that everyone contributes to those sorties,” Berman said. “However, as a maintainer, [there is a] true appreciation of knowing that you were directly responsible for that sortie.”

Berman concluded by saying the best part of being a maintainer is that something will always need to be repaired.

"The F-22 Weapons System consists of ready aircraft, aircrew and maintainers," said Col. Van Houten, 1st MXG commander. "Our Aircraft Maintenance Airmen underpin each of these components and are key to making the Raptor a lethal combat asset; ready to deploy and employ anytime, anywhere." 

Next time you see an F-22 flying across the Virginia skyline, remember that airpower starts on the ground.