By Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps, 349th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 22, 2016
Senior Airman Thomas Ribeiro, 60th Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight mechanic, walks through a ready line of equipment staged to support aircraft mechanics and crew chief on a moment’s notice at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., on Nov. 15, 2016. Ribeiro currently works as a dispatcher and a kind of “roving mechanic,” helping keep aircraft maintenance on schedule. The AGE shop provides more than 500 pieces and 53 types of equipment 24 hours per day, every day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)
After working 28 years as an aerospace ground equipment mechanic, Ronnie Leonen knows how to fix just about all the 53 different types of equipment at the 60th Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight. Whether it’s running a simple test on circuit board, or helping less experienced Airmen learn something new, he and other civilians in the shop provide experience and continuity that help their unit provide reliable, 24/7 support to the 60th Air Mobility Wing and 349th AMW at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)
A C-5M Super Galaxy taxies at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., on Nov. 15, 2016. Airmen and civilians from the integrated 60th /349th Aerospace Ground Equipment Flights, work together day and night to provide generators, flood lights and other equipment necessary for aircraft mechanics to keep the base’s aircraft and transient aircraft mission-ready. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)
Senior Airman Thomas Ribeiro and Ron Salvitti, 60th Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight, work together to untangle a hose at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., on Nov. 15, 2016. Civilians, active duty and Citizen Airmen routinely work together in the integrated AGE shop, combining many years of diverse experience to support the demands of aircraft mechanics and crew chiefs who prepare and repair C-5M, KC-10 and C-17 aircraft stationed at the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)
Staff Sgt. Cody Etcheverria instructs Senior Airman Justin Mallory on how to properly replace a generator’s crank shaft seal at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., on Nov. 15, 2016. Etcheverria is an air reserve technician, and Mallory is a traditional reservist assigned to the 60th/349th Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight. Mallory, who recently joined the reserve 11 years after separating from active duty, was taking part in seasoning training, which helps reservists in upgrade training get the experience they need to progress. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)
The 60th and 349th Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., provides more than 50 different types of equipment to mechanics and crew chiefs working on one of the busiest flight lines in Air Mobility Command. With about 500 pieces of equipment to repair and maintain, the integrated AGE flight is never short of work. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)
Airmen and civilians from the 60th Air Mobility Wing and 349th AMW meet to discuss work priorities and unit events at the integrated 60th AMW/349th AMW Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight, at Travis Air Force Base, Calif, on Nov. 15, 2106. The combination of active duty Airmen, reservists and civilians create an AGE flight rich with the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to satisfy busy flight line operations . (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)
Senior Airman Thomas Ribeiro, 60th Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight mechanic, a native of Benicia, Calif., grew up with C-5, C-17 and KC-10 aircraft from Travis Air Force Base flying overhead. When he enlisted in 2012 on the advice of his grandfather, he thought he was off to see a different part of the Air Force, but his skills were needed nearly right back where he started. Since arriving at the 60th Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight, Ribeiro has proven to be an excellent mechanic, and steadfast in his efforts to help keep Travis planes flying. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)
Senior Airman Thomas Ribeiro, 60th Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight mechanic, retrieves a generator from a C-5M Super Galaxy maintenance crew at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., on Nov. 15, 2016. Ribeiro has worked in as a mechanic and dispatcher with his unit for the past five years, providing ground equipment that is critical to aircrews providing rapid global mobility for the Air Force and the Department of Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)
Senior Airman Thomas Ribeiro (R), 60th Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight, delivers a generator to Tech. Sgt. Michael Reyes (L), 60th Maintenance Group aircraft mechanicat Travis Air Force Base, Calif., on Nov. 15, 2016. The generator provided essential power to a C-5M Super Galaxy, while Reyes and a maintenance crew repaired the aircraft. Dispatchers in Ribeiro’s shop field 60-70 requests per day to support aircraft maintainers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)
Pulling together is how things get done at the integrated 60th/349th Air Mobility Wing Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight. Active duty, reservists and civilians all have hands in the day and night operations that keep equipment ready to serve aircraft mechanics and crew chiefs on the flight line at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)
Aerospace ground equipment mechanics need to know more than just how a piece of equipment works, they need to know the best tools for the job. Throughout the integrated 60th/349th Aerospace Ground Equipment Flights, immaculately organized tool boxes provide a myriad of choices from mechanics who help keep aircraft at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., ready for the next mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)
The AGE unit at Travis works as a single meshed unit, combining the 60th and 349th MXS’s active duty, Reservists and civilian mechanics.
“AGE mechanics are the best mechanics in the Air Force,” said Willson, explaining the career field. “A lot of the equipment I’m fixing now is the same equipment I used daily as a jet engine mechanic. I didn’t’ respect it as much then, but I have a lot of respect for it now.”
The Airmen deal with electronics, fuel systems, air conditioning units; and they work with the systems from start to finish. They are required to have a wide array of skills, working with troubleshooting, schematics, wiring diagrams, hydraulic schematics, flow charts and more.
Civilians, air reserve technicians, active duty and traditional Reservists all work together, side by side, on maintaining around 500 pieces of more than 50 different types of equipment here, Young explained.
In his travels to other installations, the Citizen Airman said he hasn’t seen anything like what they have at Travis and has noticed the positive effect of the total force integration in action.
Most bases have so much work stacked up that they have to set deadlines for when pieces need to be done, explained Willson.
“Here, we don’t have deadlines,” he continued. “Because of the experience of the ARTs and civilians, combined with the active duty Airmen, we have the knowledge to fix things. Everyone learns from each other. We eliminate the need for deadlines.”
Young said the amount of knowledge brought to the table is invaluable.
“Our human capital is more than 100 years of experience, it’s fantastic,” he reiterated.
New Airmen are able to work side by side with seasoned mechanics at Travis and glean from their years of knowledge on the equipment here, Young exclaimed.
“You can’t put a price on that,” he continued.
Willson was a 20-year aircraft engine mechanic before he transitioned into the AGE career field.
“The work they do here is amazing,” he said.
Willson recalled being blown away his first day in the AGE shop.
“The first thing I saw when I walked in was all of the equipment that needed to get done that week,” he described. “I thought, ‘There is no way they are going to get this all done.’ It was during a phase inspection. I had no idea what AGE entailed before. I just abused the equipment, gave it to them, and got it back as if brand new.”
The two chiefs explained how both the active and the Reserve units bring strengths to the table.
“The Reservists and the civilians are my statics and stability for the workforce,” Young said. “I rely on them for a lot. If you really want to be a true master craftsman in your trade, you have to be at one place at least a decade. With active duty, I can lose someone for a deployment or PCS at any time.”
However, the stability the Reservists and civilians bring, can also lead to stagnation, Willson explained.
“It’s easy to keep doing things the same way because that’s the way it’s always been done,” he said. “That’s where we really need the active duty.”
The active duty Airmen bring in a fresh perspective to the way the shop runs, said Young. When someone comes in from another unit, they can bring in a new way of thinking from another base to keep things fresh.
“When you’re the new eyes, it’s easy to see ways to improve,” he added. “I’ve learned a lot from the integration of this shop. This is my first time working in an integrated shop. I’ve learned so much more about the total force concept here. Here you experience it.”
Young and Willson teach their troops to think as a singular unit.
“What makes or breaks an AGE shop is the top and middle management,” Willson said. “I tell them, ‘Think of this like a family business, what would you do to make this successful?’ We don’t divide, we work together and make sure we get along.”
Young reiterated with the family concept.
“We are a family,” he said. “We all do the same job. We all barbeque together. A couple of the ARTs are our grill sergeants. They are very good at it.”
The diversity of the work force is what makes the AGE shop at Travis so strong, Young continued.
“Knowing where each puzzle piece fits, knowing we all complete the same job – This is the reality of our Air Force – we need Reserves, we need civilians, we need active duty,” he said.