Launching an F-16 Fighting Falcon takes preparation, planning, communication, and last but not least, hard work.
Crew Chiefs across the Air Force are trained in a wide variety of skill sets that allow them to move aircraft, repair aircraft and prepare aircraft for launch and recovery from missions, said Master Sgt. Michael Schmidt, the phase dock superintendent for the deployed 176th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit.
“Every Airman plays a role in the success of the Air Force as a whole, no one job is more important that another,” said Maj. Jason Crabb, deployed 176th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit commander. “Every part of what a crew chief does contributes to the success of the mission, as they work closely with the pilots to ensure a safe and successful launch and recovery.”
Crew chiefs deployed with the 176th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit were able to share that experience with Airmen assigned to other functional areas with the 176th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron during their recent deployment to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea. Spearheaded by the 176th EFS First Sergeants, Airmen were able to sign up to watch a launch close up, and were able to actually assist with it. A double communications cable, “Y-cord” allowed headsets worn by the both the crew chief and the Airman to share communications, as the Airman were allowed to walk through the launch directly alongside the crew chiefs.
“Having a program like this allows newer members who may not have much experience to get out and see what other career fields do within the Air Force,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jacqueline McQuaid, the deployment first sergeant. “Perhaps it will make the Airmen want to continue their career in the military following a different path, or at least it will increase their understanding of what crew chiefs do every single day,” said McQuaid.
“It was really interesting to see all the things that go into the launch of an F-16,” said Senior Airman Molly Hermanson, an administrative journeyman for the 115th Fighter Wing. “I came to appreciate and understand more of what the crew chiefs do and enjoyed the experience of being that close to it all.”
Staff Sgt. Chad Gaffney, a crew chief deployed with the 176th EAMU walked Hermanson through the first Y-Cord launch for the TSP at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Sept. 19, 2017.
Approximately 25 Airmen signed up for the Y-cord launches, it had great reception by all involved and the Airmen got a lot out of it, as they learned first-hand what happens during each launch, said McQuaid.
Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, deployed to Kunsan for a three month rotation as part of a Theater Security Package, which helps to maintain a deterrent against threats to regional security and stability. TSPs are routine deployments of additional fighter squadrons with supporting personnel and equipment to bolster U.S. forces across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on a rotating basis. TSPs are one of U.S. Pacific Air Forces' contributions to Theater Security Cooperation as the U.S. air component in the region. These deployments are routine and an integral part of U.S. Pacific Command's force posture since March 2004, helping to solidify our relationship with international partners and underscore the United States' commitment to regional security and stability.