My part of the big picture

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Virginia Torkildson
  • 22nd Operations Support Squadron
Recently I had the pleasure of flying on a KC-135R Stratotanker incentive flight.

Having never been associated with military life, it was very different for me to get used to all the customs, courtesies and dress codes of the military. Going through Basic Military Training changed my life drastically and also helped me understand military life.

Growing up, my younger siblings and I would pretend to be pirates or goblins or some other such thing. My older brother dreamed of being a pilot. Until my flight I had no idea of what pilots actually did, or how the aircraft operated. I just thought they went up in the air and flew. I was wrong.

The day started at 5 a.m. We met at the 349th Air Refueling Squadron and waited until the crew members were ready to brief the flight. At 6 a.m., Staff Sgt. Dustan Foret, 22nd Operations Support Squadron boom operator, took us upstairs and gave us a mission brief.

Sergeant Foret briefed us about the different models of the KC-135 and what our mission was for the day. The mission was refueling two F-16 Falcons and one KC-135.

After the mission brief, we went back downstairs and listened to the aircraft commander go over checklists with the crew. While this was happening, I sat back and watched thinking about all the planning, paperwork and Airmen it takes to get an airplane in the air.

After the pre-mission brief we were ready to go. A transport bus picked us up at the squadron and drove us to the flight line. While waiting in great anticipation, I thought about all the maintainers involved in the safe flight of this aircraft.

Once we were safely in the air and waiting for the F-16s, I walked around the airplane, went down to the boom pod, and up to the flight deck thinking more about my part of the mission.

As an aviation resource management apprentice, one of my tasks is generating the required paperwork for the daily missions. This involves making sure the crew members are current and qualified to fly, have sufficient training, and are on current aeronautical orders authorizing flight status. I prepared the paperwork for this particular flight and it helped me understand the impact I have on each and every mission.

Every job in the Air Force is important no matter what it is. I used to think all the Air Force did was fly planes. Wrong.

It takes each and every Airman to make a flight possible. I now have a better understanding of what the mission is here.

Before, every time I watched a KC-135 take off I just looked on and thought it was cool. I had no idea how much work it took for it to get off the ground.

Now I realize how important my job is; as is everyone's. I now come to work ready to do my part to get the planes off the ground.

By doing my job correctly and efficiently it makes the whole process smoother.

I'm honored to serve as an aviation resource management apprentice and am happy to be part of the big picture.