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NEWS | July 29, 2014

Aerospace Ground Equipment Keeps RIMPAC Aircrafts Ready to Fly

By Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez 15th Wing Public Affairs

With the entire Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam ramp full of Air Force, joint-service and coalition aircraft, the Aerospace Ground Equipment flight has been busy dealing with the influx of work during Rim of the Pacific 2014.

AGE prepared months in advance and communicated with the incoming units to ensure all RIMPAC aircraft have what they need to get off the ground.

"There was a lot of coordination before everyone arrived," said 2nd Lt. Paulina Wetzel, 15th MXS maintenance flight commander and squadron RIMPAC co-coordinator. "One of the biggest challenges was making sure all of our equipment was compatible with foreign and joint-service aircraft. If they needed parts that we don't have, they had to bring it with them."

AGE is responsible for supplying and maintaining the equipment that supports aircraft while they're on the ground, including electric generators and hydraulic and air pressure equipment. For every hour an aircraft spends in the air, it spends dozens more on the ground, requiring a lot of equipment for maintenance.

For RIMPAC, they've had to balance supplying equipment for aircraft permanently assigned here, and the visiting aircraft, making their operations tempo rise.

"One of our biggest challenges is maintaining the large amount of aircraft here, and having to prioritize the RIMPAC missions and our normal daily missions," said Master Sgt. Lance Carlson, 15th MXS C-17 Globemaster AGE flight production superintendent. "What we've had to do is just take the requests in the order they come in and we go from there."

Carlson said one element of the AGE flight that's helped during RIMPAC is the continuity provided by the DoD AGE civilians in the section.

"[The civilians] have been extremely helpful for RIMPAC," Carlson said. "If we have an issue, they're able to let me know if we had the same issue last time, and we're better prepared to fix it."

RIMPAC is the world's largest maritime exercise, comprising 22 nations and 25,000 participants operating around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. Wetzel said it feels awesome to be a part of such a large and important exercise.

"I've learned so much from RIMPAC, including coalition and joint logistics; for me, the knowledge is invaluable," Wetzel said. "I'm happy to be a part of it, and I'm glad my leadership trusted me with such a large project."

With a mission so important to the care and maintenance of aircraft on the ground, Carlson expressed what he thinks about the role AGE plays in RIMPAC: "RIMPAC would be impossible to pull off if you didn't have AGE."

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