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AGE Airmen provide lifeline to flightline maintenance

Senior Airman Mark Hudson, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight journeyman, inflates a tire on a diesel generator, Nov. 5, 2015, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The AGE flight is responsible for maintaining and providing gear to other maintenance Air Force specialty codes for aircraft troubleshooting. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo)

Senior Airman Mark Hudson, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight journeyman, inflates a tire on a diesel generator, Nov. 5, 2015, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The AGE flight is responsible for maintaining and providing gear to other maintenance Air Force specialty codes for aircraft troubleshooting. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo)

Senior Airman Jose Dominguez, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight journeyman, secures braces on a B-5 stand, Nov. 5, 2015, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The stand is one of 500 pieces of equipment that the AGE flight is responsible for, including mobile power generators, heating elements and flood lights. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo)

Senior Airman Jose Dominguez, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight journeyman, secures braces on a B-5 stand, Nov. 5, 2015, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The stand is one of 500 pieces of equipment that the AGE flight is responsible for, including mobile power generators, heating elements and flood lights. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo)

Senior Airmen James Copeland, left, and Joshua Farr, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight journeymen, check the voltage of a capacitor in a flood light cart, Nov. 5, 2015, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The AGE flight provides the rest of the 22nd Maintenance Group with the equipment needed to troubleshoot any issues on the KC-135 Stratotanker that requires power or heating while on the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo)

Senior Airmen James Copeland, left, and Joshua Farr, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight journeymen, check the voltage of a capacitor in a flood light cart, Nov. 5, 2015, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The AGE flight provides the rest of the 22nd Maintenance Group with the equipment needed to troubleshoot any issues on the KC-135 Stratotanker that requires power or heating while on the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo)

Senior Airman Jose Dominguez, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight journeyman, secures braces on a B-5 stand, Nov. 5, 2015, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The AGE flight is responsible for maintaining and providing gear to other maintenance Air Force specialty codes for aircraft troubleshooting. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo)

Senior Airman Jose Dominguez, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight journeyman, secures braces on a B-5 stand, Nov. 5, 2015, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The AGE flight is responsible for maintaining and providing gear to other maintenance Air Force specialty codes for aircraft troubleshooting. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo)

Senior Airman Joshua Farr, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight journeyman, inspects a generator, Nov. 5, 2015, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The AGE flight monitors, inspects and maintains more than 500 pieces of equipment used across the entire 22nd Maintenance Group. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo)

Senior Airman Joshua Farr, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight journeyman, inspects a generator, Nov. 5, 2015, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The AGE flight monitors, inspects and maintains more than 500 pieces of equipment used across the entire 22nd Maintenance Group. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- When the Airmen of the 22nd Maintenance Group need to trouble shoot a KC-135 Stratotanker, they can't just turn the aircraft on and run the engines until they figure out the problem because of the amount of jet fuel it would consume.

The quickest way to fix an issue is to call Airmen from the 22nd Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment flight to bring out the equipment needed to power the aircraft without wasting expensive fuel.

The AGE flight maintains more than 500 pieces of equipment to keep McConnell's KC-135 fleet mission ready and in top shape. Maintenance Airmen from other flights will request AGE gear depending on the issue, ranging from portable power generators to heating elements.

"Most of our equipment was manufactured in the '70s and 80's," said Master Sgt. Robert Keegan, 22nd MXS AGE assistant flight chief. "We spend a lot of time fixing normal wear and tear, and it keeps us busy."

A normal day for an AGE Airman often revolves around inspecting and fixing any issues on a specific piece of equipment. A qualified non-commissioned officer inspects each item a final time upon completion, and the equipment is put on stand-by in case it is needed on the flightline.

"When they're testing the [aircraft's] systems, getting it ready to fly, they're using our support equipment," said Tech. Sgt. Corey Bailey, 22nd MXS AGE inspections NCO in charge. "You can't run jet engines all the time when you're on the ground, and our gear substitutes for that, whether it's hydraulics, power or heat."

The 60-person flight is subject to a moderately high deployment tempo, with someone leaving as soon as another gets back. AGE usually has at least five Airmen deployed at any given time, said Bailey.

The 22nd MXG is comprised of hundreds of dedicated maintenance professionals who work continuously to ensure the nation's aerial refueling needs are fulfilled, but when it comes down to their ability to maintain the nearly 60 year old KC-135, the Airmen in the AGE flight provide the groundwork necessary to accomplish this mission.