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PMEL: Setting standard for excellence

Man turns wrench.

Senior Airman Cameron Wood, 19th Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratory technician, performs maintenance work on a C-130 engine June 12, 2018, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Wood worked to ensure all of the engine’s readings were accurate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Man connects calibration tool with engine test cell.

Staff Sgt. Anthony Hightower, 19th Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratory technician, connects calibration equipment to a C-130 engine June 12, 2018, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Engine calibrations typically take two to three days to complete. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Men work on engine.

Team Little Rock members perform maintenance work on a C-130 engine June 12, 2018, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. C-130 engines are regularly calibrated and tested before returning to use on an aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Man sits at computer and talks in microphone.

Staff Sgt. Anthony Hightower, 19th Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratory technician, monitors calibration readings, while speaking to his partner through a microphone June 12, 2018, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Hightower is operating out of a compartment called a “Hush Box”. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Man turns torque calibration tool.

Senior Airman Elias Gallardo, 19th Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratory technician, calibrates the torque of a wrench June 13, 2018, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Torque calibrations are some of the most numerous the PMEL shop encounters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Man pushes button.

Airman 1st Class Matthew Petrulis, 19th Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratory technician, performs torque calibrations June 13, 2018, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. During the calibration, Petrulis manually applied pressure with turns of a screwdriver, while monitoring readings from his equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Man places weight on scale.

Staff Sgt. Philip Gorney, 19th Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratory technician, calibrates a five pound weight June 13, 2018, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Gorney was supporting Barksdale Air Force Base, La., by calibrating a set of their weights. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Man puts cable in machine.

Airman 1st Class Matthew Petrulis, 19th Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratory technician, operates a failsafe ohm meter June 13, 2018, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Petrulis performs this function and many others to keep Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., running smoothly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

The Precision Measurement Evaluation Laboratory calibrates equipment on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., to ensure the validity of readings and results of equipment.

PMEL initiatives started in the late 1950s after numerous failed aircraft launches were traced back to inaccurately calibrated pieces of equipment. After this realization, the PMEL Airman was born.

“Our mission is to calibrate all the support equipment on base to the National Institute of Standards and Technologies requirement,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Key, 19th Maintenance Squadron PMEL electronics supervisor. “The only things on base that we don’t service are the scales at the commissary and the gas pumps.”

The daily work schedule needed to properly support such a large customer base may seem daunting to some, but the PMEL shop accomplishes any tasks set before them without a second thought. Even a job as big as calibrating a C-130 engine.

“The engine test cell calibrations normally take two to three days,” said Senior Airman Cameron Wood, 19th Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratory technician. “Even with it taking so long, I still love this job. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

This love for the job doesn’t just apply to Little Rock AFB. PMEL shops support each other all over the country if they find they can’t fulfill a certain tasking.

“We help out other bases and services with their calibrations,” Key said. “We set the standard for all calibrations on base. We have to be accurate because everything we touch has a domino effect if we’re wrong.”

Knowing that being a few millionths of an inch off in their measurements can mean failure only works to motivate PMEL team members in their quest for perfection.

“We’re the back shop behind the back shop, but what we do is vital to the base,” Wood said.

Working such precision leads to a desire and need for PMEL Airmen to be as close to perfection as possible.

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