MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
On a mere 20-degree morning, Airmen walk through the doors of an illuminated building containing massive pieces of equipment ready for maintenance.
An Airman opens his locker and puts on a pair of coveralls and safety glasses. After opening the toolbox and letting out a deep breath, he looks at his project and begins the four-day “heart” surgery.
As a heart pumps blood throughout the human body, a -86 diesel generator produces and distributes power to equipment. Senior Airman Dustin Holmes, 5th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, starts by excising a skeletal frame protecting the generator, much like ribs protecting the heart.
“Generators are used on the flight line by maintainers to power the aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Brian Steele, 5th MXS AGE flight chief. “We provide the equipment so crew chiefs can begin their pre-flight inspections and get the aircraft ready to depart.”
These Airmen, AGE technicians, are responsible for equipment used on the flight line.
“Our job is critical to the mission on the flight line,” Holmes said. “We provide generators and other servicing equipment to maintainers working hands-on on the aircraft. We ensure they have the equipment they need at the drop of hat in order to keep aircraft mission-capable.”
As “jacks-of-all-trade”, AGE technicians provide equipment to units from both the 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing.
While temperatures stay below zero for multiple days during the winter months at Minot Air Force Base, this does not stop AGE technicians from supplying heaters to the flight line and missile complex so other Airmen can stay warm while completing their mission.
Aerospace ground equipment technicians also maintain and inspect over 600 pieces of equipment.
“We maintain equipment that is 30-40 years old,” Steele said. “We break equipment down to the core to replace generators and engines, and we also fix electrical and hydraulic issues.”
After a successful transplant, Holmes and his team begin to reconnect wires and replace bolts. As they restore the generator to its original form, the rejuvenated piece of equipment is inspected and placed back in line – ready to power-up a B-52H Stratofortress.