Staff Sergeant Steven Watson loves his job as an instructor.
“You get to mentor students and you see everybody from different cultures and backgrounds come in,” Watson said.
Watson can also relate to his students since he too went to tech school at Sheppard Air Force Base, and knows first hand exactly what it takes to ensure aircraft are ready for takeoff.
“If they need fixed, our equipment troubleshoots those planes, and we are not there, the planes don’t fly,” Watson said. “Nobody goes anywhere.”
In the Aerospace Ground Equipment course, airmen like Marco Nelms learn the fundamentals of hydraulics, electrical theory and how to provide the best support to the flight line.
“Every part is a big piece in everything else, so without one piece, not everything can function very well,” Nelms said. “So, without this particular job, no one would be able to fix the aircraft.”
In order to get the troubleshooting equipment where it needs to go airmen spend time in the seat learning how to drive on the flight line.
Airmen also learn the ins and outs of all types of equipment necessary to keep aircraft flying, and when aircraft break down it is the crew the crew chiefs call on.
“Without us, it was just be the crew chiefs themselves working on this equipment and the aircraft,” Nelms said.
Nelms said he has already learned more in the last four months than he has in his entire life and after just 87 academic training days airmen like Nelms will take flight to their next assignment and Watson will be ready to instruct and learn from the next group of students.
“It’s always good to also teach them, but also they teach you on the backside as well,” Watson said. “So, it is a good experience all around.”
An experience that has come full circle for this staff sergeant.
More than 200 students train to be apart of the elite group each year, and to put it into perspective just how many airmen go through the course at Sheppard Air Force Base, they graduate an entire class each week and a class of new airmen enter the course the very next week.