33rd HMU ensures aircraft are ready to deploy

Kadena Air Base, Japan -- HH-60G Pave Hawk aircrews from the 33rd Rescue Squadron count on their maintainers for both their lives and the lives of those they rescue.

Airmen of the 33rd Helicopter Maintenance Unit work day and night to ensure their aircraft are ready to launch at a moment’s notice for rescue operations.

“When an aircrew uses that aircraft they are trusting us with their lives,” said Staff Sgt. Travis Wilkin 33rd HMU HH-60G dedicated crew chief. “With combat search and rescue, there could be an injured survivor out there needing our support, and if the crew does not have fully operational equipment, it puts lives in danger.”

Before and after each mission, a 33rd RQS HH-60G is inspected by the 33rd HMU Airmen. They ensure the aircraft is always ready for flight, and they also address any issues or concerns that the aircrew reports after operations to ensure peak performance of the aircraft.

“Before the aircraft flies, we have to do an inspection on the aircraft to ensure that everything is good to go before an aircrew comes out to take the aircraft,” Wilkin said. “It’s extremely important to ensure that everything goes right on the aircraft, and if anything were to go wrong we’re the first to answer for it.”

As a dedicated crew chief, Wilkin knows attention to detail is critical, because a missing tool, failed inspection, or objects left behind can possibly ground an aircraft.

“It’s important to ensure that tools are accounted for,” he explained. “It could end up in the flight controls while they are flying and if they can’t control the aircraft and it goes down, it could be because you left a tool on that aircraft.”

Maintainers play a crucial role in the success of the 33rd RQS’s mission.

“The job can be challenging at times, but I love it,” said Staff Sgt. Christian Montero, 33rd HMU flight control systems technician. “If we don’t fix the aircraft the pilots can’t fly, aircrews can’t do their training, and operators can’t get their mission done.”

Aircraft maintainers like Montero and Wilkin keep this in the back of their minds as they work on aircraft, so that others may live, and to ensure that their aircrews can come home safe.