When it absolutely, positively has to be there on time

RAF Mildenhall -- The Air Force has many planes and tracking each take off and landing can take a lot of work. Keeping track of the planes that consistently take off on time or are consistently delayed helps leadership identify strong planes, according to Tech. Sgt. Christopher Goen, 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. 

"On-time planes are the planes sent on temporary duty assignments and deployments because you don't have to worry about them breaking down," he said. 

Sometimes a plane might not make it off the ground for a variety of reasons, most of them are maintenance-related. If something like the flight controls, hydraulics or autopilot failed, then the flight would be delayed, said Senior AirmanNathan Ellis, 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. The failure of any essential part will delay the plane. 

One plane here recently hit a milestone when it reached 100 straight on-time flights. According to Airman Ellis, the milestone is a rare occurrence and only happens about once a year - though this is the second time in two years tail number 62-3538 has done it. 

Tail number 62-3538 logged a total of 112 flights, said Maj. Enid Lynch, 100th Maintenance Squadron. The plane also logged 119 on-time flights from November 2004 to December 2005. The squadron record is 145. Those feats are especially impressive when you consider the aircraft has been around since 1962. 

The crew chiefs put a lot of work into ensuring their planes leave on time, but reaching a milestone like that makes it pay off. Reaching the milestone is the goal of every crew chief, and getting there can take equal parts luck and skill. 

A lot goes into reaching a goal like this, Maj. Lynch said. The crew chiefs have to pay a lot of attention to detail. When they perform a post-flight inspection, they must do it carefully and meticulously because the more things they catch after the flight, the more time they have to fix them. The crew chiefs also get lucky because if something big were to break, it would require more time to fix and that would push back the take off. 

"Despite requiring some luck, 100 on-time take offs is a rare, significant achievement," said Maj. Mike Braucher, 100th AMXS commander. "It's a credit to the four-person team assigned to the aircraft diligently launching, recovering, inspecting and repairing the aircraft day and night, in all weather, at home and off-station.

"It's also a credit to the system experts backing up the crew chiefs repairing the aircraft's specialized systems," he added.

A winning combination:
The four crew chiefs who helped launch tail number 62-3538 to more than 110 on-time flights are:
-- Senior Airman Nathan Ellis,
-- Airman 1st Class Christopher Gilbert,
-- Senior Airman Chad Haynes and
-- Staff Sgt. Jonathan McMahan.