ORE doesn't 'phase' Falcon inspection team
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Routine vehicle maintenance typically includes changing oil, checking fluid levels or rotating tires. It doesn't usually include breaking down the entire vehicle to find the smallest crack or defect and fixing it.
But for the 35th Maintenance Squadron crew chief and phase inspection section, it does...only their vehicles are the base's fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons.
It's the phase team's job to break down every F-16 Fighting Falcon that comes in for maintenance and get it back out to the flightline, fully repaired, in a timely manner. They work on all aspects of the jet - from the nose to the tail - ensuring nothing is overlooked.
"One of the main things we look for during our inspection is corrosion," said Airman 1st Class Ryan Scavuzzo, 35 MXS crew chief and phase inspection section team member. "Because we're so close to the ocean and our base washes the jets fairly often, there can be a reasonable amount of it throughout the jets.
"We look through the entire jet for any corrosion or cracks. We also look for any faulty or incorrectly installed parts and correct them," said Scavuzzo.
As simulated attacks bombard the base during Phase II of an operational readiness exercise, the base's mission must continue -- F-16 Fighting Falcons must take to the skies.
For the phase Airmen, this means going through the 160 panels of the jet, while wearing their gas mask and taking cover as necessary. But before the first jet taxis the runway, it must be approved for takeoff by members of this team.
"Signing off the preflight inspections, having the final say on the flight line, and knowing the pilot is going to be safe is a source of pride for crew chiefs," said Scavuzzo.
There's no room for error. the pilot's life is in their hands.
"The job these guys do on the floor everyday is very important," said Staff Sgt. Blain Wilverding, 35 MXS phase floor chief. "They must pay close attention to detail and ensure the aircraft is inspected more in-depth than what is looked at on a day-to-day basis. A good inspection and good maintenance is key here in phase. These guys do a great job getting these jets put back together and back out onto the flightline."
The phase team at Misawa is all business, but that doesn't mean they don't have a good time on-the-job.
"I enjoy being able to turn wrenches, get dirty, fix things, and take things apart to see how they operate," said Scavuzzo. "Usually I'm a pretty clean person but getting to come here and get my hands dirty all day - it's pretty fun."