Misawa: AFE flight finds the perfect fit
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- When shopping for clothes, most people are looking for a “good enough” fit. For the 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment flight, they won’t let an aircrew member out the door until the fit is perfect.
The AFE shop is responsible for preparing all pilots’ flying gear, including helmets, masks, survival vests, anti-exposure suits and harnesses.
“Our mission is mainly to support flying while assisting pilots when in flight,” said Senior Airman Jesse Lujan, a 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman. “We ensure pilots’ equipment is up to par, so when they fly, everything needed is available to survive in the jet or in the event they have to eject.”
The AFE flight measures every aircrew member precisely. This often means taking off-the-shelf components such as helmets and oxygen masks to custom-fit each member until each piece of equipment fits down to the last centimeter. That little bit of space could make a life or death difference.
"Talking with the customer is critical to finding that perfect fit, said Senior Airman Jesse Lujan, a 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman. "Our whole job is based off customer service."
An average day in the AFE flight includes looking over the flying schedule, and ensuring gear is squared away to fly. This flight also has inspection cycles weekly in which the Airmen break down each pilot’s gear for inspection.
"Getting to know each pilot personally and seeing a different side of them is one of the best parts of my job," said Lujan. "I wouldn't trade this experience for anything else."
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jesse Lujan, a 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, ensures a parachute has no rips at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 14, 2017. The AFE flight is responsible for ensuring all flight and safety equipment is in perfect working order. From packing emergency items like parachutes and survival kits to maintaining regularly-used items like flight helmets and oxygen masks, the attention to detail provided by these professionals could mean the difference between life and death for a pilot.