49th EMS Crash Recovery keeps Holloman’s mission on track

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Isaiah Pedrazzini
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
One of the 49th Wing’s primary goals is to ensure the continual development of both F-16 Viper and MQ-9 Reaper aircrew. To keep Holloman’s student pilots training to become combat aviators for the U.S. Air Force, the 49th Equipment Maintenance Squadron crash damaged disabled aircraft team is always on standby to aircraft incidents.

The crash recovery shop is composed of a select group of trained crew chiefs that specialize in responding to in-flight or ground emergencies.

“In the event of mishaps, accidents, or crashes, our responsibility is to recover the aircraft, minimize further damage and ensure the runway is clear,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Orin Fitzpatrick, 49th EMS crash recovery noncommissioned officer in charge. “Though our entire team is made up of crew chiefs, we follow specialized procedures specific to our mission that are distinct from routine flight line maintenance.”

When working in a profession that revolves around many what-if situations, the crash recovery team coordinates with a variety of other units to ensure that any dangerous situation is properly handled.

“Unlike routine maintenance, there's no 'ABC' procedure to follow. It requires thinking creatively and working with the right people to achieve the desired outcome,” said Fitzpatrick. “When we’re operating at a scene, we coordinate agencies from across the wing such as wing safety, the fire department, bio, fuel, security forces, and medical, to ensure we’re adapting our response accordingly.”

Alongside recovering damaged or crashed aircraft, the crash and recovery team is also responsible for ensuring the care and maintenance of all F-16 tires on base.

“We serve all three aircraft maintenance units: the 311th, 314th, and the 8th, ensuring a constant supply of spare tires and helping prevent maintenance delays and keeping the mission going,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Alexander Slobozien, 49th EMS crash recovery section chief. “Aircraft tires wear out quickly, typically lasting only 20 to 100 landings. This constant wear keeps us busy, ensuring aircraft have reliable tires for their missions.”

The crash and recovery team here has proved that cooperation and critical thinking take the stage when it comes to keeping Holloman’s mission on course.

“The entire organization looks to us for expertise and swift action. In case of accidents or incidents, it's crucial that everyone knows their role and performs effectively,” said Slobozien. “Everyone may see a problem differently, but collaboration and trust in each other is how we accomplish our tasks effectively.”