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Aircrew Flight Equipment units strengthened by merge

AFE (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion Lowe)

Senior Airman Dondrel Pedescleaux, 54th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, preps Airmen for familiarization flights, Dec. 18, 2018, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. This is the final check before they take flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion M. Lowe)

AFE (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion Lowe)

F-16 Fighting Falcon helmets are displayed for pilots preparing for a flight, Dec. 12, 2018, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. The helmets provide oxygen and communication capabilities to the pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion M. Lowe)

AFE (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion Lowe)

Airman 1st Class Dylan Discher, 54th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, begins a mask fit test for Capt. Tyler Hill, 8th Fighter squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, Dec. 12, 2018, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. This test is to ensure there are no leaks in the pilot’s mask. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion M. Lowe)

AFE (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion Lowe)

Senior Airman Tyler Molitor, 54th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, rigs the steering toggles on a parachute, Dec. 18, 2018, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. This parachute will be installed in a T-38 Talon jet as a safety precaution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion M. Lowe)

AFE (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion Lowe)

Senior Airman Tyler Molitor, 54th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, rigs the steering toggles on a parachute, Dec. 18, 2018, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. This parachute will be installed in a T-38 Talon jet as a safety precaution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion M. Lowe)

AFE (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion Lowe)

Staff Sgt. Erick Merill, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 8th Fighter squadron aircrew flight equipment, inspects the flash rate on a strobe marker light, Dec. 12, 2018, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. The strobe marker light can be used in emergency situations as a personal locator beacon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion M. Lowe)

AFE (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion Lowe)

Staff Sgt. Erick Merill, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 8th Fighter squadron aircrew flight equipment, performs a periodic inspection of a torso harness, Dec. 12, 2018, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Merill ensures that everything on the harness is secured properly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion M. Lowe)

AFE (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion Lowe)

Senior Airman Dondrel Pedescleaux, 54th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, washes an oxygen mask hose, Dec. 12, 2018, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Masks are washed every 30 days to keep them in functional condition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion M. Lowe)

AFE (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quion Lowe)

Senior Airman Dondrel Pedescleaux, 54th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, ensures a pilot’s gear is up-to-date, Dec. 12, 2018, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. This verification is done weekly so pilots always fly with gear that has been inspected. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman Quion M. Lowe)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

There are many safety precautions in place for pilots who fly for the United States Air Force, their equipment must be inspected and double checked regularly to ensure maximum safety.

For the Airmen in charge of this gear, continuity between team members is key. There has to be a clear system in place to make sure nothing is overlooked, and with the merge of Aircrew Flight Equipment units into one flight in the 54th Operations Support Squadron here, this continuity has improved.

Senior Airman Dondrel Pedescleaux, a 54th OSS AFE technician, transitioned from working at the parachute shop, formerly in the 49th Operations Support Squadron to a life support shop with the 54th OSS, seeing the full effects of the merge.

“At my old shop we worked mainly on packing parachutes as well as survival kits,” said Pedescleaux. “For me it’s less nerve racking here because with parachutes you have to be very critical about what you’re inspecting because that’s what a pilot is going to default to, to save his life. For a survival kit you have to make sure everything is secure inside of it just in case the pilot goes down in a hostile area and needs those items for survival.”

Although some flight members went to a life support shop, there are now more people working in the parachute shop since the merge.

“I would say all of the shops have become more efficient because we’ve been able to spread more of our qualified personnel everywhere and that’s positively affected our training as well,” said Pedescleaux.

Those skilled team members that were originally a part of the 54th OSS have helped those from other units adjust to their new guidelines.

“They do have a few tips and tricks that they’ve figured out here especially since they fall under a different command,” said Pedescleaux. “Everyone is now under Air Education and Training Command guidelines instead of Air Combat Command, but here they were already accustomed to being AETC.”

The differences between the shops on base are not just what major command they were assigned to, but also the methods used for common objectives.

“We just combine our, as they say, ‘Hollomanisms’, into one big pot to try to figure out how to do the gear best,” said Pedescleaux.

As far as the parachute shop that used to be the 49th OSS, the adjustments have been more marginal.

Senior Airman Tyler Molitor, a 54th OSS AFE technician, said he always thought bringing the different AFE units together would be helpful.

“When I got here a little over two years ago I had to get used to working in separate organizations doing the same job, and I think it’s beneficial to all be under the same roof now,” said Molitor.

However, with all these additions to their staff it is understandable that there may still be some kinks to work out. 

“As a whole, with the change of command, new commander and other personnel, everybody wants to establish how things should be done and it’s just about getting everyone on the same page because we’re a big flight,” said Molitor. 

Pedescleaux, originally from the 49th OSS, worked with Molitor and was close with members of their previous shop.

“While I do miss the coworkers I was so close with, I know that they’re off making the entire unit better now,” said Pedescleaux.

Pedescleaux also said he already has seen an increase in efficiency and that the unit has benefitted from the balance of skilled team members throughout the many shops.

“It’s more of a relief knowing there are additional experienced people looking over your work to give extra assurance that pilots aren’t at risk,” said Pedescleaux.