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Cannon behind the scenes: supporting aircrew safety

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
*This feature is thirteenth in a series of Air Commando highlights at Cannon.

Part of Air Force Special Operations Command's ability to execute its global missions at a moment's notice relies heavily on its ability to keep aircraft and flight crews airborne.

Airmen working with aircrew flight equipment play a pivotal role in ensuring all airborne Air Commandos have the necessary gear and safety apparatuses to continue infiltration, exfiltration and re-supply of Special Operations Forces 24/7.

"Our biggest responsibility lies in getting our troops where they are going, in both a timely and safe manner," said Staff Sgt. David Showers, 27th Special Operations Support Squadron. "We dissect every component of our equipment before issuing it out to flyers. A pinhole in an oxygen mask can pose a life-threatening hazard to aircrew members."

Helmets are checked for anything that could compromise overall integrity, such as cracks, scratches, wear and tear or deterioration. Technical orders are used to determine when a piece of equipment is not long serviceable.

The small shop, consisting of five Airmen, is responsible for approximately 300 helmets alone. Additionally, aircrew flight equipment regulates oxygen masks and chemical protection.

Prior to each flight, aircrew members must test helmets and masks with a device capable of simulating various altitudes. Oxygen masks are attached to the machine while the flyer takes breaths with the mask on. The idea is to determine whether or not leaks are present in the mask. If a leak is detected, the mask will be adjusted or replaced until the problem is solved.

"Air sickness is a physiological condition that affects aircrew members, especially in non-pressurized aircraft," said Tech. Sgt. Thomas Canada, 27 SOSS. "Small air pockets form internally and can disorient flyers in high elevations. If we don't do our job to make sure our Airmen have the oxygen they need, they might not be able to navigate the aircraft."

Aircrew flight equipment also monitors and maintains serviceability of more than $300,000 worth of night vision gear.

"One of the best things about being a part of AFSOC would be the amount of diversity I encounter on the job daily," said Airman 1st Class Rosendo Garcia, 27 SOSS. "We all carry a certain amount of pride knowing that we directly have a hand in keeping our aircrew member's safe and battle ready."