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AGE Airmen: No airpower without ground power

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael McWhirt, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment journeyman, attaches a diesel generator to a truck to bring to out to the flightline to power a KC-135 Stratotanker at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 8, 2018. A series of inspections must be completed before any aircraft can use the generator, which are an instrumental part in powering the KC-135 Stratotankers on the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael McWhirt, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment journeyman, attaches a diesel generator to a truck to bring to out to the flightline to power a KC-135 Stratotanker at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 8, 2018. A series of inspections must be completed before any aircraft can use the generator, which are an instrumental part in powering the KC-135 Stratotankers on the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lamar Cotton, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment journeyman, looks for his next tool while working on a diesel generator at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 8, 2018. Aerospace ground equipment Airmen maintain a variety of essential equipment such as generators, heaters and flood lights, which are essential for crew chiefs and other flightline Airmen to do their jobs and keep the mission going. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lamar Cotton, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment journeyman, looks for his next tool while working on a diesel generator at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 8, 2018. Aerospace ground equipment Airmen maintain a variety of essential equipment such as generators, heaters and flood lights, which are essential for crew chiefs and other flightline Airmen to do their jobs and keep the mission going. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lamar Cotton, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment journeyman, fixes a diesel generator’s damaged power plane by replacing a damaged harness at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 8, 2018. Aerospace ground equipment Airmen maintain a variety of essential equipment such as generators, heaters and flood lights, all are essential for crew chiefs and other flightline Airmen to do their jobs and keep the mission going. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lamar Cotton, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment journeyman, fixes a diesel generator’s damaged power plane by replacing a damaged harness at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 8, 2018. Aerospace ground equipment Airmen maintain a variety of essential equipment such as generators, heaters and flood lights, all are essential for crew chiefs and other flightline Airmen to do their jobs and keep the mission going. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lamar Cotton, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment journeyman, fixes a diesel generator’s damaged power plane by replacing a damaged harness at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 8, 2018. AGE technicians use ground power to ensure the Bloody Hundredth’s KC-135 Stratotankers are ready to provide the critical air refueling "bridge" that allows the ARW to deploy and project airpower around the globe at a moment's notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lamar Cotton, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment journeyman, fixes a diesel generator’s damaged power plane by replacing a damaged harness at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 8, 2018. AGE technicians use ground power to ensure the Bloody Hundredth’s KC-135 Stratotankers are ready to provide the critical air refueling "bridge" that allows the ARW to deploy and project airpower around the globe at a moment's notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Walking onto the flightline, the hum of the generators is all you hear over the conversation between pilots and mechanics. The small battery on wheels powers a 49 ton aircraft and prepares KC-135 Stratotankers to fuel the mission across Europe and Africa.

Aerospace ground equipment Airmen maintain a variety of essential equipment like generators, heaters and flood lights, all are important for crew chiefs and other flightline Airmen to do their jobs and keep the mission going.

“I didn’t see how I played a part in the RAF Mildenhall mission until I heard the motto, ‘There is no airpower without ground power.” said Senior Airman Daren Waters Jr., 100th Maintenance Squadron AGE journeyman. “We power the planes for the pilots to fly and light the way for the maintainers to see.”

A series of inspections must be completed before any aircraft can take off the maintainer’s equipment must work properly every time.

“I didn’t think my job was important at first,” Waters said. “We don’t touch the planes and some of us rarely get to go on the flightline. After learning my job and understanding how big of a role we really play, I believe AGE is the backbone of the flightline.”

The ‘flightline crew’ provides the equipment to crew chiefs and other aircraft maintainers on the flight line. The ‘back shop’ also works together to ensure equipment is in good condition and conducts routine inspections to help the mission. AGE routinely inspects equipment for normal wear and tear.

“Troubleshooting is the hardest part when it comes to inspections,” Waters said. “There are so many pieces to the puzzle when it comes to working on the diesel generators, but it is the most rewarding when you get to the end. That plane was able to get in the air because you helped power it.”

This career field tests the shop’s determination with fixing equipment and teaching Airmen how to solve problems.

“Some problems we encounter we can’t do alone,” said Senior Airman Lamar Cotton, 100th MXS AGE journeyman. “I’ve spent hours working on equipment before I realized I needed help. There is a lot of experience around us and I’ve learned to know when to ask for help.”

Maintaining mission readiness, with planes landing and taking off from a flightline that is open around the clock, requires careful coordination and determination from dedicated AGE technicians.

“Our planes support missions in Europe and Africa, and we support our planes. As long as our planes are working, so are we,” Cotton said.

AGE technicians use ground power to ensure the Bloody Hundredth’s KC-135 Stratotankers are ready to provide the critical air refueling "bridge" that allows the ARW to deploy and project airpower around the globe at a moment's notice.