KEY WEST, Fla. – Airmen assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing deployed to Key West, Fla., in support of an F-16 Fighting Falcon training mission Feb. 1-14.
The two-week deployment allowed pilots to train against dissimilar aircraft. It ensured flights wouldn’t get canceled due to snow storms or weather advisories, it saved wear and tear on the F-16s, and it allowed more than 100 Airmen the opportunity for real-world training in their areas of expertise.
Airman 1st Class Nate Hamilton, 115th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, was one of the Airmen selected for the temporary duty deployment.
“I can’t believe I got chosen,” Hamilton said. “It has been a great learning experience.”
According to Hamilton, it was luck of the draw for those who got the opportunity to come down for training. Hamilton has been with the unit for about two years, and this was his first temporary deployment. His knowledge was tested throughout the two weeks.
“We’ve done just about every repair you could think of on the maintenance end,” Hamilton said.
The maintenance crews were put to the test with multiple jet repairs such as replacing an aft transparency and fuel motor, as well as dealing with anti-skid and hydraulic issues.
“Every single shop has done their part,” said 1st Lt. Brian Wyman, 115th Maintenance Squadron officer in-charge. “This unit has come together as a team and has given extra effort to overcome the challenges we have faced.”
All of the shops demonstrated that same team mentality throughout the temporary deployment.
The 115th Force Support Squadron, for example, provided daily meals for Airmen on the flightline so they could fuel their bodies while maintaining work schedules.
According to Airman 1st Class Chris Flanagan with the 115th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron engine shop, he and others helped the crew chiefs during launch and recovery operations by inspecting the intake blades, something they wouldn’t typically do back home.
“That team mentality is something I’m proud to be a part of,” Wyman said.
The 115th FW completed 112 sorties during its temporary deployment.