Race against the clock

Base Info
U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load an AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile onto an F-15 Eagle Jan. 4, 2017, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Weapons load crew members have to rush against the clock while using proper loading procedures to ensure secure connections of the missiles onto the F-15 Eagle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lynette M. Rolen/Released)
U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load an AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile onto an F-15 Eagle Jan. 4, 2017, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Weapons load crew members have to rush against the clock while using proper loading procedures to ensure secure connections of the missiles onto the F-15 Eagle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lynette M. Rolen/Released)

Race against the clock

by: Senior Airman Lynette M. Rolen | .
18th Wing Public Affairs | .
published: January 09, 2017

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Team members work together throughout the weapons load competition to beat the clock, having only 60 minutes to load eight missiles onto an F-15 Eagle.

The 67th and 44th Aircraft Maintenance Units competed in the annual competition Jan. 4.

“It was awesome to get everybody out here to see what we do every day,” said Master Sgt. Joe Champion, 44th AMU weapons flight chief. “They also see who is the fastest, safest, and provide aircraft with the weaponry needed to perform its mission.”

The audience included peers, spouses, and 18th Wing leadership.

“It shows the crowd we can do our job fast and proficiently,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas McCants, 44th AMU weapons load crew chief. “These teams competing today are quarterly competition winners. To even go up for the quarterly competition, you have to be highly qualified.”

Weapons load crew members train monthly in order to maintain their qualifications and proficiency.

All competitors are required to complete the same core tasking to arm the aircraft correctly, but some such as Senior Airman Jacob Clark and Adam Pratschler, 44th AMU weapons load crew members, have developed their own system.

“We both have been working together for three and a half years now,” said Clark. “We’ve got the understanding needed to be a good team and get the job done. We have teamed up for most of our competitions. We have a whole system in place which helps things move along.”

McCants said communication and collaboration between teams is a good baseline for the Airmen to see how working together is better than trying to do something individually.

“If one person is out of step, the whole team suffers,” said Champion. “Everybody has to be on the same page, they have to be focused. If they’re not, it could mean failure for the entire team.”

While the competition is another opportunity for maintainers to showcase their skills, Champion said all of the teamwork and preparation leading up to the annual event results in more effective AMUs for real-world operations.

“The way our guys competed today, and the time in which they did it, in a safe and reliable manner; it doesn’t really get any better,” said Champion. “To see the professionalism these guys have, the dedication they have to working as fast and hard as they do is rewarding. They’re able to provide the most important piece of the one-team-one-fight puzzle we deal with every day.”