There's no airpower without ground power

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Harry Brexel
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Danger is no stranger to an AGE Ranger. That is the motto that can be heard throughout the 19th Airlift Wing aerospace ground equipment support flight. DINSTAAR is a saying that may date back to Vietnam. The story goes that AGE Airmen were under constant fire by the enemy yet they still fearlessly ran to protect their equipment that serviced planes.

AGE Airmen take pride in the motto as well as their unique job.

For every hour that an aircraft spends in the air, it spends dozens of hours on the ground being prepped. The aerospace ground equipment flight, of the 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron takes on that task every day.

The AGE flight consists of more than 85 people who maintain the equipment that keeps planes moving. The team works on approximately 600 pieces of equipment, 24 hours a day seven days a week.

"Preflight and post flight maintenance is essential to the mission," said Senior Master Sgt. Eric Holland, 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment support flight chief. "Most bases don't have as many planes as we do, so we work hard here."

The gear that AGE rangers work on supplies electricity, air conditioning, hydraulic and air pressure support to aircraft. However, there is a plethora of equipment that AGE Airmen service, inspect and maintain. At Little Rock AFB, there are approximately 30 different types of accessories that AGE is responsible for.

AGE is divided into three sections. The team quickly delivers equipment to planes on the flightline. They inspect and then maintain/repair the equipment.

"We basically maintain the integrity of all ground equipment," said Holland. "On average, 45 different pieces of equipment are inspected each week."

Many pieces of the generators, air compressors and bomb lifts are older than the AGE Airmen that work on them.

"Though some of the equipment that we work on can be decades old, it isn't necessarily a problem," said Master Sgt. Dewayne Sora, 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment production superintendent. "Most of the kinks have been worked out, similar to the C-130s themselves."

Although the equipment and mission of AGE has remained constant through the years, the way in which they do it has not.

Recently the Little Rock AFB AGE flight has made changes to the way they get the job done. They have done so by integrating a program called Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century. By putting a white board up for AGE Airmen to submit innovative ideas, the flight has saved time and money.

"We have better organized the equipment that we inspect," Holland said. "We've also integrated welding into our job. We've cut back non-value hours, and miles of travel by using ideas from AFSO21."

Though there have been changes to the AGE flight, the work ethic has remained the same.

"We work just as hard as we always have. We may even have to work harder, as many of our Airmen may not be with us in the future," said Holland. "However, we're resilient, and we can make up for the possible lack of manpower."

Regardless of potential cutbacks, the AGE flight will continue to work as hard as ever. They will inspect, maintain and deliver ground equipment to the planes that need it. Around the clock, AGE will continue to play a vital role at The Rock. Without them, the C-130s on base would be nothing but shells.