49er Fridays

  • Published
  • By Maj. Jeurney Meekins
  • 849th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, commander
So, what is the difference between 49er Fridays and First Fridays? You may be surprised to find that I, a squadron commander, was also unclear on the distinction. From my experience as a career aircraft maintenance officer, First Fridays are a time-honored, fighter pilot gathering to build unit cohesion in the operations world. Every flying squadron that I am familiar with had a bar-like break area where they popped jalapeƱo-flavored popcorn and had beer on tap. This was a perfect setup for a unit gathering with officer academics, roll calls, naming events and a designated time for the celebratory event of the month.

According to Col. James Thompson, the 49th Wing vice commander, on EVERY Friday at the end of the flying day the unit would gather for these festivities and then head to the base club (promptly) at 7 p.m. to meet up with folks from other units and hang out. But the First Friday of the month, spouses were invited and showed up in force, dressed to impress and to be a part of the unit gathering. And once per quarter, teams from each unit would compete in a lively crud tournament at the billiard table.

Today at Holloman, 49er Fridays are not just for the operations side of the house or just for officers. Where First Fridays are cordoned off for unit-specific gathering opportunities, 49er Fridays are designated Fridays where we head to the base club at the end of the duty day. The bar is hopping; you can have a 49-cent beer and get to know our peers, bosses and those who work alongside us on this base. And certainly, one 49er Friday per quarter, the groups will put forth their champions to represent them at the wing crud tournament.

49er Friday is where you build camaraderie; get to know the people you work with, set the groundwork for working relationships and leadership makes themselves available for casual conversation. You learn the non-verbal cues for when your boss is joking and when he or she is serious. Or they may have some pertinent information or the latest news to share. You can even get straight to the point and resolve work issues at a side table. That person you need to or have been meaning to talk to will be there.

We have an opportunity to establish a 49er Friday that works for you. There are some great ideas out there. Imagine picking up your legally-cleared poker chips for a casual evening of Texas Hold 'Em and who you'll find yourself seated across from on that 49er Friday. Do you karaoke? Did I mention the free food? Some of you are just looking for an opportunity to hang out, unwind and meet new people.

If you take ownership and make it your own, 49er Friday doesn't have to be "mandatory fun", but it can be an opportunity that you are glad you did not miss. So, grab a 49-cent draft beer (if you like), pull up a chair and get to know the people you work for (and with) in uniform. And by the way, your spouse is invited. Here it is: your 49er Friday. The next one is on you. See you there!