Multi-capable PMEL Airmen assist fuels

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Antonio Salfran
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

In an effort to create more multi-capable Airmen, maintainers from the 49th Component Maintenance Squadron fuels section have taken it upon themselves to train precision measurement equipment laboratory Airmen on fuels operations. This cross-Air Force Specialty Code training is intended to allow PMEL Airmen to better support different functions and lend a helping hand to the sections who need it most.

The PMEL flight sent two Airmen to receive training from qualified fuels systems members on Aug. 10-11, 2023. The inspections and maintenance that the 49th CMS fuel shop provides is crucial to keeping the Air Force’s largest F-16 formal training unit running, and the extra qualified maintainers help the fuels section develop more realistic production timelines and facilitate any unbalanced workloads.

“Despite manning challenges in fuels, we’ve had standout Airmen rise to the task,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jamie Gardiner, 49th Component Maintenance Squadron test, measurement, and diagnostic equipment flight chief. “With two PMEL Airmen now helping to balance the workload, the fuels section can dedicate more time to training their younger Airmen on F-16 specific tasks.”

Gardiner states that because the PMEL flight is in good shape personnel-wise, the shop was able to leverage that in order to help another unit by selecting Airmen who have experience with similar tasks to fuels systems.

The Airmen that were chosen to receive this training were U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Gustavo Gaytan and U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Alexander MacWithey, 49th CMS PMEL journeymen, both of whom are technicians in the physical dimensional calibration section.

“Getting an opportunity to get out of our normal workspace and pick up a new skill has been awesome,” said Gaytan. “It’s not just because we’re learning new duties, but we’re helping out another shop and that will ultimately propel the mission forward.”

Gaytan and MacWithey were trained by members from the fuels section on the process of conducting an annual fuel tank inspection, which helps determine which tanks are operational for flight.

Among the Airmen conducting the training was U.S. Air Force Senior Airman William Hunter, 49th CMS fuels systems journeyman.

“Completing these inspections helps the F-16s train for longer,” said Hunter. “If we can keep up with the status of these tanks, we can get them out to the aircraft quicker, and if they’re flying a sortie that requires a lot of fuel, they’ll have the resources to do that.”

Adding two more members who are qualified in this arena allows the fuels section to better regulate the multiple assignments they’re given.

“I’m just grateful for the help we’ve received from PMEL,” said Hunter. “Now we can send these guys on inspections and I can focus on maintenance operations. This helps us run more efficiently and effectively.”

Leading and developing Airmen doesn’t stop at a Fightin’ 49er’s specific place of work, but it can stretch out to other parts of the installation. The mission calls for readiness among all ranks, and Holloman’s multi-capable Airmen are rising to the occasion.

“As we advance, we plan to keep helping fuels as much as possible,” says Gardiner. “More members will be given the opportunity to step outside our unit to develop further and be a helping hand.”