PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Whether for daily flights or emergencies, the 920th Operation Support Squadron’s Aircrew Flight Equipment section supplies the 920th Rescue Wing crew members of both HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and the HC-130J Combat King II aircraft life-saving equipment and the training to implement it.
Paramount to the mission is the safety of aircraft pilots, other aircrew, and special warfare operators so comprehensive training and ongoing maintenance, inspection, repair, and adjustment of aircrew flight equipment such as flight helmets, parachutes, and safety rafts are critical.
The team member consensus is that there’s no margin for error when lives are on the line.
“Our job at the basic level is to maintain and inspect the gear that goes out to the aircraft, but also the gear that the aircrew fly with,” Tech. Sgt. Jarrod Burgess, 920th Operation Support Squadron AFE technician said. “The other aspect is to teach them how to utilize it during an emergency situation so they can depend on it when they need it most.”
Since missions can range in complexity from search and rescue to face offs against devastating hurricanes and tropical storms that envelop swaths of land in coastal regions, aircrew members rely heavily on their behind-the-scenes colleagues in AFE.
“Equipment supplied and maintained by the AFE include parachutes for the C130 crew; helmets, masks, life preservers, and rafts for both aircraft types that can be used for rescues or emergencies; and survival vests and restraints used for crew in the helicopter rear,” said Master Sgt. Christian Diaz, 920th OSS AFE technician.
Technicians from the 920th AFE are multifunctional, proving proficient with aircrew life-support and survival equipment of both fixed and rotary-aircraft aircrews. The job mandates an “above and beyond” approach, calling for familiarity, maintenance, testing, and management of thousands of items.
“We make sure that the aircrews have the equipment they need so that they can do their job efficiently and safely, with the gear they need to survive,” said Senior Master Sgt. Mara Malkin, 920th OSS AFE superintendent.
The AFE team’s professionalism and attention to detail support the rescue motto and wing mission: “The Things We Do That Others May Live.”
“As with anything there are obviously ups and downs but I love my job,” said Master Sgt. Christian Diaz, 920th OSS AFE technician. “I like working here; I like what we do, and I take pride in knowing that the aircrew can rely on our equipment if they need it, for any reason.