Late shift: keeping planes flying

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Alejandro Jasso, 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, looks up inspections cards for job performance on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Feb. 21, 2012. The laptop is referred to as a ?Go Book? and contains information for every job or duty needed to be performed by the crew member. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jette Carr)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Alejandro Jasso, 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, looks up inspections cards for job performance on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Feb. 21, 2012. The laptop is referred to as a "Go Book" and contains information for every job or duty needed to be performed by the crew member. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jette Carr)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class William Ellis, 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, wipes down a loadmasters view-bubble on an AC-130H Spectre on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Feb. 21, 2012. Small tasks, such as maintaining aircraft cleanliness, are critical in eliminating even the smallest possibility for error on missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jette Carr)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class William Ellis, 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, wipes down a loadmasters view-bubble on an AC-130H Spectre on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Feb. 21, 2012. Small tasks, such as maintaining aircraft cleanliness, are critical in eliminating even the smallest possibility for error on missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jette Carr)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Josue Arroyo, 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, inspects a system on the AC-130H Spectre gunship on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Feb. 21, 2012. The system maintains several other systems which are critical to overall functionality of the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jette Carr)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Josue Arroyo, 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, inspects a system on the AC-130H Spectre gunship on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Feb. 21, 2012. The system maintains several other systems which are critical to overall functionality of the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jette Carr)

Crew chiefs from the 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron carry their tools to the AC-130H Spectre gunship as they prepare for a nightly inspection of the aircraft.  Many squadrons, such as the 27 SOAMS are operational 24/7 to keep aircraft in the air no matter what time it is.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jette Carr)

Crew chiefs from the 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron carry their tools to the AC-130H Spectre gunship as they prepare for a nightly inspection of the aircraft. Many squadrons, such as the 27 SOAMS are operational 24/7 to keep aircraft in the air no matter what time it is. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jette Carr)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Operations at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. never rest and they never sleep. Many squadrons, such as the 16th Special Operations Squadron aircraft maintenance unit and the 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, keep working all through the night. Air Commandos skilled in hydraulics and engine mechanics work with crew chiefs to service the AC-130H Spectre gunship and keep it flying 24/7.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Short, 16 SOS AMU vehicle and hazmat NCOIC, works on the gunship's engine. For the past nine years of his career, he has spent most of his time on midshift - 11 p.m. to 7 p.m.

"I've never had any problems being on midshift," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Short. "I've always loved it and I've never wanted to change times."

He said it's more of a hands-on shift with less paperwork then the day workers. Their main prerogative is to get the aircraft inspected or fixed after night flights so they are able to fly again first thing in the morning.

"Our planes, especially in the desert, fly only at night," said Short. "This means operators need to fly during the night here for their training missions."

Senior Airman Josue Arroyo, 27 SOAMXS crew chief, also helps maintain the Spectre gunship during midshift. His unit rotates shifts every four months to make it fair for every individual and to help each Airman remain proficient on all aspects of their job.

"When we go out to the planes to do our inspections, I want the plane to be presented to the flight crew as if we were salesmen selling a product," said Arroyo. "Would you buy a car that looks and runs poorly?"

Probably not, was his answer. To keep the aircraft in the best possible condition Arroyo takes the time to clean the aircraft and make sure all trash, windows, seatbelts and vacuuming have taken care of before beginning a nightly inspection.

"The inspections that we accomplish insure the safety of not only ourselves, but the safety of the flight crew - those who will be flying the mission," he said.

Arroyo does several types of inspection such as preflight - a zonal inspection with a few specific items to look at. However, he likes to treat every job as a basic post flight inspection which covers major components that need to be thoroughly looked at.

"The little things are so important because there is no room for error; men and women's lives are at stake every time the aircraft goes on a mission, whether training or a real-live mission overseas," he said. "That's why we, at the 16 SOS AMU, pride ourselves in our work."