Job Spotlight: Cryogenic Technicians
Kadena Air Base | .
published: August 26, 2016
Walt Disney’s frozen head and the X-Files are just a few of the things thought of in relation to cryogenics. However, on Kadena, as well as bases throughout the Air Force, cryogenics technicians help get aircraft off the ground.
Cryogenics technicians support 33 different agencies here, from maintenance squadrons to the hospital.
“Liquid oxygen is used primarily for aircraft so pilots can breathe, as well as for patients on oxygen during things like emergency evacuation flights. Liquid nitrogen is used by metals technicians to freeze nuts and bolts to put them on aircraft; so that when they unfreeze they expand, ensuring the bolts are tightly fitted to the aircraft,” said Senior Airman Brandon Avery, a cryogenics technician with the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron.
Dealing with liquid oxygen and nitrogen goes hand-in-hand with many dangers, requiring the use of personal protective equipment and checklists that must be followed.
“What we do is highly dangerous, we’re constantly working with high pressures and voltages,” said Avery. ”Things can go wrong in the blink of an eye if you aren’t staying on top and being safe.”
Despite the apparent dangers, Kadena’s cryogenics team still gets the job done.
“Sometimes, you’ll come in and things will be everywhere – orders, things that need to happen – but it’s our job to make sure things are under control,” said Staff Sgt. Quentin Joe, a fuels cryogenic production supervisor with the 18th LRS.
“It’s about ensuring that the job gets done right and nobody gets hurt.”
The team is currently installing a seven-ton plant that will allow them to produce their own liquid oxygen and nitrogen at a higher volume, meaning they can be self-sustaining, as well as save the Air Force money.
“I enjoy working with a small team, you get to know people on a more personal basis and learn a lot from the experiences of others,” said Avery. “What we do as cryogenics technicians is really important because at the end of the day, people need to breathe to perform effectively and execute the mission.”