SAFB preps for ‘Guardians of Freedom’ airshow to highlight F-22 maintenance training

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Sheppard Air Force Base is gearing up for its “Guardians of Freedom” air show.

The base has an entire facility dedicated to F-22 maintenance training where students are getting hands-on experience with life-size models.

Sometimes known as the Raptor, or the bird of prey, the F-22 aircraft is known to be a highly intelligent entity in the sky.

“You can think of it sort of like the human anatomy, each thing has its job to make sure basically the brain survives and does what it needs to do,” F-22 Avionics instructor Staff Sgt. Andrew Okenfuss said. “It’s not different than on the F-22.”

Sheppard Air Force Base is preparing its airmen by providing F-22 training on both the avionics and armament side with life-size models of the plane. Avionics are the electrical systems used.

“It’s so that they can make their oops and mistakes on a trainer aircraft rather than an actual multi-million dollar F-22,” Okenfuss said.

The F-22 armament training portion maintains the weapon system of the F-22.

“I like to consider us as bringing the fight,” F-22 Aircraft Armament instructor Tech. Sgt. Carlos Ochoa said. “We load all the weapons, that includes ammunition on 20 mm Gatling gun, it could be air to air ammunitions or air to ground ammunition.”

One trainee has been here two months and said he believes the hands-on maintenance training is important.

“It’s like a really great privilege to be on a newer aircraft, and it’s one of the most superior aircrafts out there and it’s just really nice to be part of that community,” F-22 Armament Apprentice course student Geromnimo Lopez said.

It takes a lot of maintenance and training to keep an aircraft like this up and running. but Okenfuss said when it is running, it’s like something no one’s ever seen before.

“The amount of speed it has going behind it and then you see all these beautiful and graceful movements that it’s able to make due to the high maneuverability behind this aircraft it’s absolutely gonna blow your mind, it’s like going to see a Backstreet Boys concert up in the air.”

A concert in the skies ready to protect in the clouds, but before it can perform, it must be understood and maintained.

The air show is coming up Oct. 26 and 27 at Sheppard so folks can check out the F-22 maintenance training there.

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