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NEWS | Aug. 13, 2021

Sharpening their skills; Soldiers and Airmen learn to maintain helicopters

By Senior Airman Sarah Dowe 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Air Force maintainers at JBLE are commonly associated with F-22 Raptors and other jets. It may come as a surprise to know some Airmen also learn how to maintain helicopters while training at JBLE.

JBLE is home to multiple different technical schools and advanced individual training schools. One of which teaches helicopter and tiltrotor maintenance at Fort Eustis for members in a joint environment.

“Throughout the course, we develop the foundation on which the students can build upon their maintenance skills,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean O’Neill, helicopter instructor assigned to the 362nd Training Squadron, Detachment One. “The students train on Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. We also have specific courses to familiarize students with documentation, rescue hoist, aerial refueling probe, and shipment, to name a few things.”

This course is 75 days in total and consists of 15 blocks of training related to the aircraft systems. All requirements for the course are at JBLE.

“Training in a joint environment offers different insight as to how maintenance procedures differ between the U.S branches and other foreign militaries,” O’Neill said. “As instructors, we are qualified to teach both Army and Air Force classes. That integration allows students to gain knowledge not only from our instructors but also from other students.”

Instructors work to keep the students engaged by introducing new learning tools and techniques throughout the course.

“My favorite part of the course is seeing the Airmen and Soldiers grow as mechanics and implement the knowledge I have taught them throughout the course,” O’Neill said. “Also, graduation and knowing the students were given the best training available and will take what was learned onto the flight line, strengthening the force.”

As students move through the course and complete assessments, they expand their knowledge by utilizing advanced technological training systems. The students use tablets to complete hands-on portions of training and test what they have learned.

“[What stood out to me] was the diversity of experience you get from the different instructors and working together with Army and Air Force students,” said Airman Kevin Henry, a student assigned to the 362nd TS, Det 1. “Additionally, learning how to process your thoughts and stay cool, calm, and collected while being put in a stressful situation.”

Students also explained the benefits of learning in a joint environment and gaining new perspectives from different points of view.

Upon graduation, students can be stationed at multiple bases across the United States and at some overseas bases. The Airmen are able to hit the ground running, putting their newly learned skills to work alongside veteran crew chiefs.