With a mirage looming and mountains peeking through the landscape in the distance, Airmen soak up beaming rays of light while droplets of sweat and oil bead on their skin as they tighten the nuts and bolts of an aircraft safety barrier.
The 49th Civil Engineer Squadron electrical power production shop supports Holloman’s missions by providing power supply to buildings and maintaining aircraft arresting systems on the flightline, as well as the anti-vehicle barriers found across the base.
“About 97 to 98% of our job is preventative maintenance,” said Senior Airman Jacob Cleveland, 49th CES electrical power production technician. “A lot of it (includes) inspections. We’re checking to make sure that our equipment is in operational status (all year round).”
The shop services approximately 50 generators across the base, ensuring the mission would continue in the event of a blackout.
These Airmen are currently enabling the 49th Medical Group’s mission of providing trusted care to base personnel and their families by generating power for the contingency facilities outside of the main building.
“By providing a generator for the pharmacy tent outside of the medical facility, we’re ensuring base personnel are still receiving their medication and (medical support) in a safe and timely manner,” said Senior Airman Blaine Redman, 49th CES electrical power production technician. “It’s great knowing we can make a difference.”
In addition to keeping the central portion of base equipped with electrical power, these Airmen also aid in the continuation of base operations by conducting a variety of daily and monthly inspections, including maintaining the 16 different aircraft arresting systems across the flightline.
“During our weekly inspections, (checking) the hydraulics on an aircraft is integral because they are what applies the pressure onto the brakes, allowing them to function properly,” said Cleveland. “(Without this inspection), you’re risking not having the brake pressure applied in stopping the aircraft, and it could be disastrous– it could result in losing the aircraft, the pilot, or even endangering the other responders that may be off to the side waiting for engagement.”
For this same reason, aircraft arresting barriers are crucial. In fact, if those barriers are inoperable, the mission is at a standstill until fixed.
“Every sortie that’s coming out of this base is dependent on those barriers functioning,” said Cleveland. “You don’t want the military operation at a base to shut down simply because a transformer blew. The mission must keep going, as best as it can, to make sure operations continue functioning, which is why our job is so important.”
Senior Airman Redman also mentioned they’re supporting several agencies across the base to include the air traffic control tower, fire department, command post and fuels distribution center.
Although the number of personnel on each shift has reduced, in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, that limiting factor has not stopped this electrifying team from getting their typical workload accomplished.
“The base’s generators and aircraft arresting systems still hold a high priority and must be maintained,” said Senior Airman Wesley Deveau, 49th CES electrical power production technician. “We have overcome these challenges by ensuring there is good communication throughout the shop. We emphasize on ensuring the mission gets done while making sure the team stays healthy. Without the dedication and flexibility of everyone in the shop, this would not be possible.”