Airmen support F-16 training mission

A pilot assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing climbs down from his jet after a training exercise near Key West, Fla., Feb. 3, 2014. The 115th FW came to Key West in February to reduce the likelihood of flight cancelations due to weather. The deployment allowed pilots to test their expertise against dissimilar aircraft. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

A pilot assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing climbs down from his jet after a training exercise near Key West, Fla., Feb. 3, 2014. The 115th FW came to Key West in February to reduce the likelihood of flight cancelations due to weather. The deployment allowed pilots to test their expertise against dissimilar aircraft. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

An Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon sits on the flightline at Naval Air Station Key West, Key West, Fla., Feb. 4, 2014. Eight F-16s came to Florida to avoid weather cancelations they may have experienced back home. The deployment allowed pilots to test their expertise against dissimilar aircraft. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

An Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon sits on the flightline at Naval Air Station Key West, Key West, Fla., Feb. 4, 2014. Eight F-16s came to Florida to avoid weather cancelations they may have experienced back home. The deployment allowed pilots to test their expertise against dissimilar aircraft. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

An Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing receives maintenance on the Navy Air Station Key West flightline, Key West, Fla., Feb. 4, 2014. The 115th FW came to Key West in February to reduce the likelihood of flight cancelations due to weather. The deployment allowed pilots to test their expertise against dissimilar aircraft. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

An Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing receives maintenance on the Navy Air Station Key West flightline, Key West, Fla., Feb. 4, 2014. The 115th FW came to Key West in February to reduce the likelihood of flight cancelations due to weather. The deployment allowed pilots to test their expertise against dissimilar aircraft. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Airmen assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing exit the flightline after helping taxi an F-16 Fighting Falcon to the runway during a training exercise near Key West, Fla., Feb. 3, 2014. The 115th FW came to Key West in February to reduce the likelihood of flight cancelations due to weather. The deployment allowed pilots to test their expertise against dissimilar aircraft. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Airmen assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing exit the flightline after helping taxi an F-16 Fighting Falcon to the runway during a training exercise near Key West, Fla., Feb. 3, 2014. The 115th FW came to Key West in February to reduce the likelihood of flight cancelations due to weather. The deployment allowed pilots to test their expertise against dissimilar aircraft. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing maintain an F-16 Fighting Falcon on the flightline at Naval Air Station Key West, Key West, Fla., Feb. 4, 2014. More than 100 Airmen were deployed to Key West in support of the flying mission, where 115th FW pilots had the chance to fly against dissimilar aircraft. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing maintain an F-16 Fighting Falcon on the flightline at Naval Air Station Key West, Key West, Fla., Feb. 4, 2014. More than 100 Airmen were deployed to Key West in support of the flying mission, where 115th FW pilots had the chance to fly against dissimilar aircraft. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Airmen assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing watch the flightline as an F-16 Fighting Falcon is maintained at Naval Air Station Key West, Key West, Fla., Feb. 3, 2014. More than 100 Airmen flew down to support the flying missions that took place over a two-week period. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Airmen assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing watch the flightline as an F-16 Fighting Falcon is maintained at Naval Air Station Key West, Key West, Fla., Feb. 3, 2014. More than 100 Airmen flew down to support the flying missions that took place over a two-week period. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Pilots assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing exit the Naval Air Station Key West following a training exercise near Key West, Fla., Feb. 3, 2014. The 115th FW came to Key West in February to reduce the likelihood of flight cancelations due to weather. The deployment allowed pilots to test their expertise against dissimilar aircraft. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

Pilots assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing exit the Naval Air Station Key West following a training exercise near Key West, Fla., Feb. 3, 2014. The 115th FW came to Key West in February to reduce the likelihood of flight cancelations due to weather. The deployment allowed pilots to test their expertise against dissimilar aircraft. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti)

KEY WEST, Fla. -- Airmen assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing deployed to Key West, Fla., in support of an F-16 Fighting Falcon training mission Feb. 1-14.

The two-week deployment allowed pilots to train against dissimilar aircraft. It ensured flights wouldn't get canceled due to snow storms or weather advisories, it saved wear and tear on the F-16s, and it allowed more than 100 Airmen the opportunity for real-world training in their areas of expertise.

Airman 1st Class Nate Hamilton, 115th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, was one of the Airmen selected for the temporary duty deployment.

"I can't believe I got chosen," Hamilton said. "It has been a great learning experience."

According to Hamilton, it was luck of the draw for those who got the opportunity to come down for training. Hamilton has been with the unit for about two years, and this was his first TDY. His knowledge was tested throughout the deployment.

"We've done just about every repair you could think of on the maintenance end," Hamilton said.

The maintenance crews were put to the test with multiple jet repairs such as replacing an aft transparency and fuel motor, as well as dealing with anti-skid and hydraulic issues.

"Every single shop has done their part," said 1st Lt. Brian Wyman, 115th Maintenance Squadron officer in-charge. "This unit has come together as a team and has given extra effort to overcome the challenges we have faced."

All of the shops demonstrated that same team mentality throughout the TDY.

The 115th Force Support Squadron, for example, provided daily meals for Airmen on the flightline so they could fuel their bodies while maintaining work schedules.

According to Airman 1st Class Chris Flanagan, 115th AMXS engine shop, he and others helped the crew chiefs during launch and recovery operations by inspecting the intake blades, something they wouldn't typically do back home.

"That team mentality is something I'm proud to be a part of," Wyman said.

The 115th FW completed 112 sorties during its TDY.
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