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Flight Mechanics


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I'm going back a few year's on this one, but I seem to recall that the USAF C-9's and 737 VIP aircraft had "flight mechanic's" as part of the crew compliment. What was the AFSC and/or background to be aircrew in this capacity? I also recall (circa 1990-92) some heavy Pentagon in-fighting about placing navigator's on the above mentioned aircraft, whenever they were to fly into so called "haphazard" theatre's. LOL! What was a nav going to do? Sit in the jump seat with a clipboard and a stopwatch?

Kurt

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I'm going back a few year's on this one, but I seem to recall that the USAF C-9's and 737 VIP aircraft had "flight mechanic's" as part of the crew compliment. What was the AFSC and/or background to be aircrew in this capacity? I also recall (circa 1990-92) some heavy Pentagon in-fighting about placing navigator's on the above mentioned aircraft, whenever they were to fly into so called "haphazard" theatre's. LOL! What was a nav going to do? Sit in the jump seat with a clipboard and a stopwatch?

Kurt

Well, a navigator would know what to do. Are you a navigator?

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I'm going back a few year's on this one, but I seem to recall that the USAF C-9's and 737 VIP aircraft had "flight mechanic's" as part of the crew compliment. What was the AFSC and/or background to be aircrew in this capacity?

When I flew JC-131B's out of Wright-Patt in 69-70, under AFSC, we flew as A431x1As.

When I flew VC-118A's and VT-29B/C/D out of Wright-Patterson in 72-75, under AFLC, we flew as FMs with AFSC of A43171A. We flew a Kittyhawk flight every weekday morning from WPAFB to Andrews and back, taking off at 6am. The flight crew, including the stewart, wore their blue slacks and light blue shirts and regular flight jackets.

All of the guys I flew with were 431x1A's (aircraft mechanic reciprocating engine aircraft).

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Marine FE's used to come from the ranks of the Herk maintenance department exclusively. One had to be a CDI (collateral duty inspector) prior to entering flight training as a FM. Once qualified you could follow on to be an engineer after a couple of years of experience. As the need for FE's grew the MOS became open to other platforms as the F-4's, A-4's and OV-10's were retired. The MOS manual was changed to reflect that the qualified candidate had to have an aviation MOS as a prerequisite. Eventually it was opened up even further to basically anyone that could breathe. We were inundated with grunts and truck drivers for a while. Very few (less than 10%) made it through training.

All FE training was conducted in house until around 1986 when the schoolhouse was opened at MCAS Cherry Point. Pilots, Navigators, and Radio Operators (LM) were trained there as well.

In 1993 a new MOS was created in order to become a feeder for the FE MOS. We would take brand new Marines fresh from aviation maintenance training at Memphis/Pensacola and put them through FM training. What was supposed to happen was that we'd have this pool of qualified fliers to pick from for FE training. As with almost all first term enlistee's, most of them got out, so the pool wasn't so big afterall.

The introduction of the KC-130J changed all that. Some of the FE's left for the reserve units in TX and NY. The ones that didn't (or couldn't) were converted to crew chiefs. Quite a few got out or retired. The schoolhouse has since been decommissioned and all initial training is conducted at Little Rock for the "J". The two reserve units train there own FM's and FE's now. And most of thier students come from the Herk maintenance department.

Someone said it earlier, what goes around comes around...

I am currently a FM for VMGR-452 And this pretty much describes my training. I went through boot camp, Marine Combat Training, then on to Pensacola for water survival training (aircrew candidate school), after candidate school you go over to the navy school house and attend there AD school which is a power plants school where you learn the basics, Then they ship you off to Brunswick Maine where you go to a 2 1/2 week SERE school. After SERE school I was sent to Cherry Point MCAS and went to J model Crew Chief Ground school. From there their was a slot open to VMGR-452 on the "Old Plane" that no one else wanted, I thought it would be neat to learn the old one too, figured the chance wouldn't be there for long. So I got qualified for flight training on the J and left for NY to start FM ground school in house at NY, which was by far the hardest training I had been through. After I passed the ground phase I started flight phase, after completing all my codes and a check ride I finally got pined and received my wings. FE's are picked from the FM but very few do it, most of us get out. I only know three that have tried to become FE's and two of them have dropped out of FE training. I have been pondering the idea of FE training but with a family to take care of it is very hard FE students fly MANY hours to try and learn and get qualified ASAP, and it is not easy. FE training is supposed to be coming to an end but with budget cuts I don't foresee us getting J models soon as promised many times before.

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  • 9 months later...

They were still called flight mechanics while I was at Naha in 66-67 and they carried either the A431X1F AFSC or the Jet engine mechanic AFSC. USAF changed the AFSC and gave the C-130 flight mechanics the flight engineer AFSC that had previously only been awarded to flight engineers on airplanes with a panel. The whole deal goes back to World War II when aerial engineers flew on B-17s, B-24s/C-87s/C-109s and C-54s and crew chiefs flew on C-46s and C-47s. At some point they started calling the flying crew chiefs flight mechanics. Bill Hatfield, who is one of the original C-130 pilots, tells me that for the first two or three years of C-130 operations the flight mechanic and the crew chief were one and the same. They flew with their airplanes and then worked on the flightline when they weren't flying. Sometime around 1959-60 they relieved them of flight line responsibilities. There weren't any loadmasters on crews either. A member of the ground crew flew as a scanner. Scanners were still flying on troop carrier crews into the sixties. There was no AFSC school for C-130 flight mechanics; they already had the maintenance AFSC so they went to Sewart for the C-130 familarization course. They were sometimes called "engineers" but on the orders they were designated as F/M's. I believe the AFSC change came about in 1967 just before I left Naha. It had something to do with assignments, but they still had to go to performance engineer school to be assigned to C-141s or C-5s.

By the way, the C-7 Caribou used flight engineers and no loadmaster. They had no panel and their duties were loading and offloading cargo and rigging airdrops.

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Back in my active duty days I was flight mechanic on the T-39A out of Ramstein in the mid 70s. Our AFSC was A43171C 1 and 2 engine jet. We either had to stand between the pilot and co-pilot, sit on the jump seat (honey bucket seat) or ride with the pax. Like SEFEGeorge said we did not have a tool box but carried a bag.

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I went through the school house in 66 at Sewart we were Flight Mechs then, I think the realignment of the enlisted flying AFSC's was in 72, we were called Flight Engineers before that as the 130 check list changed in the late 60's. Some of the older guys replied FE to the check list but the school taught FM. The late 70's brought about all FE's going to performance school.

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By the way, the C-7 Caribou used flight engineers and no loadmaster. Sam

I was at the school house when the AF had the C-7s dumped on them. The AF looked at the current classes of FM and those with recip expererence were reassigned to the C7. There were some unhappy guys at Sewart.

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By the way, the C-7 Caribou used flight engineers and no loadmaster. Sam

I was at the school house when the AF had the C-7s dumped on them. The AF looked at the current classes of FM and those with recip expererence were reassigned to the C7. There were some unhappy guys at Sewart.

A lot of Caribou engineers came out of MAC. A friend of mine, Frank Godek, lives down the road from me aways on Galveston Bay. I flew with Frank in C-141s at Robins. He went to Vietnam on C-7s and got his name in the history books. He's been having some health issues lately - guess I need to go see him.

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