DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
There are a lot of pieces that play into the safety and security of a 7th Bomb Wing mission. By the time that the B-1B Lancer is in the air, Airmen from across the base have played an important role as part of it. There are maintainers keeping the B-1B primed and ready, aircrew members prepared to fly and plenty of support in the form of medical care, legal services,and transportation.
But who are the ones protecting the aircrew while the B-1 is in the air?
The answer to the question is simple: it is the hard work and attention to detail of the 7th Operational Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop.
“When all else fails, we’re the last line of defense for our aircrew,” said Senior Airman Raychel Channell, 7th OSS AFE journeyman. “We ensure their safety and security in the B-1 even if everything else goes wrong.”
The 7th OSS AFE is responsible for the safety and training of more than 200 aircrew members across several squadrons. There is absolutely no room for error in their job.
“It can be a challenge since there are so many pieces of equipment that we are responsible for, but we’re charged with the safety of our aircrew members,” Channell said. “I think that’s something to be proud of, knowing we play an important role in the mission, and have a direct influence on the safety of our wingmen.”
Equipment that the 7th OSS AFE shop is responsible for includes parachutes, water survival tools, oxygen masks, night vision devices, radios, vests, harnesses and helmets. These items need to be inspected and tested regularly.
“Depending on how often it’s used and what it’s used for, we might need to inspect something from every 30 days to a year,” said Airman 1st Class Benjamin Farruggia, 7th OSS AFE apprentice. “We spend the time ensuring that every piece of equipment works so the aircrew members don’t have to.”
Although some shops get to see their hard work put to use on a daily basis, the AFE shop is different.
“Outside of equipment that is actively used for every mission, such as the helmet and oxygen mask, we don’t often see our equipment put to use,” Channell said. “It’s a little like insurance; you don’t want to be in a situation where you have to use it, but it’s there for you all the same if an incident occurs.”
Another responsibility that the AFE shop is charged with is ensuring that every aircrew member is trained in the proper usage of the equipment available to them.
“All aircrew members have to be trained on this equipment when they get here initially and annually after that,” Farruggia said. “This can help reaffirm what’s available to them when in a situation where they need it. It also allows for us to train them when there are any changes or updates to their equipment.”
Because of the AFE shop, aircrew members of the B-1 don’t have to worry about the details of their safety equipment and can instead focus on one important thing: feed the fight and kill targets, anytime and anywhere.