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Buzzards at Lask Air Base Poland

Published in Videos

Raw footage of U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft taking off from Aviano Air Base, Italy. Six Aviano aircraft joined forces with Poland in a joint theater security training event. This marks the third rotation of U.S. aircraft that have supported the U.S. Air Force Aviation Detachment at Lask Air Base, Poland as part of a partnership-building initiative that began in October 2012. Video by Airman 1st Class Abbey Whittaker | 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Poland continues to build its relationship with the United States as both nations' air forces integrate their capabilities in a joint theater security cooperation event July 15-26, 2013.

This marks the third time U.S. aircraft have flown into Poland as part of a partnership-building initiative that began in October 2012.

"We are demonstrating the commitment that we've made to Poland," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Spears, commander of Detachment 1, 52nd Operations Group.

The aviation detachment began in 2011 as a discussion between the U.S. ambassador to Poland and the Polish Defense Minister. In June of that year, the two signed a memorandum authorizing and creating the detachment. Since the detachment's opening in 2012, both militaries have worked to solidify the positions and create a long-standing, enduring American presence in the country.

"We consider them one of our top allies, and it's an ally that we want to improve our relationship with and partnership with," Spears said. "So, the aviation detachment is a mechanism with which we can strengthen that partnership."

The detachment is the administrative hub of an aerial training program and is part of the 52nd Fighter Wing from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. For this rotation, the U.S. aircraft are from the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy -- a major air combat asset of U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

During each rotation, the detachment balances the training needs of participating aircraft. Both Aviano and Lask employ the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, and some of the training will focus on communication effectiveness and familiarization of techniques.

"We get to learn from our allies," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jason Monaco, officer in charge of the 510th FS during the rotation. "We get to train with them at all levels, whether it's the pilots flying the jets, the maintenance guys turning the wrenches or the guys building the bombs -- we get to see what the Polish air force does.

"And that's something we don't get when we're just working with each other back home," he added.

Spears said the Polish government's hospitality has been indicative of their eagerness to share security efforts across Europe, and hosting the U.S. military in their country is not the first time that Poland has demonstrated their commitment to peace.

"When you look at the history of the two nations, you find that this isn't a new partnership," Spears said. "It's a partnership and heritage that dates back to our county's existence. Really, we're continuing on those traditions and that heritage, because we do value Poland as a nation and a partner in NATO."

Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
LASK AIR BASE, Poland

With a new state-of-the-art Corrosion Control Facility on Aviano, aircrafts are now serviced in-house for a quarter of the cost.

Up until last year, all F-16 Fighting Falcons on Aviano were sent to either Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, or a Belgian based aerospace company for repainting, costing the Air Force nearly $108,000 each time.

Operation ALLIED FORCE - CAP Mission

Published in Videos

Video of the 510th Fighter Squadron Buzzards on a CAP mission in support of Operation ALLIED FORCE.

Crew chiefs take dirty jobs to new heights

Published in In the News

On the flightline with F-16 Fighting Falcons roaring in the background, a crew chief tries to wipe the sweat from his forehead, but ends up just smearing grease on his face as he crawls from under a jet.

The aircraft component he has been waiting for has finally arrived, and within minutes of receiving the part the Airman was back under the jet, his uniform soaked in grease and sweat.

"It simply cannot happen without us," said Staff Sgt. Sean Rindfleisch, 510th Aircraft Maintenance Unit dedicated crew chief, referring to day-to-day flying operations.

According to Staff Sgt. Christopher Mustard, 510th AMU expediter, aircraft maintenance is the overall focal point for the whole aircraft. Crew chiefs have many responsibilities including managing repairs, preparing a jet to fly and ensuring the safety of the pilots on their assigned aircraft. Other shops assist with specific jobs, but at the end of the day, it is a crew chief's responsibility to make sure the jet is capable of flying.

While working in hot weather conditions inside a stagnant protective aircraft shelter, crew chiefs and maintainers have their own language and bond while working together to relieve job stress.

"We describe our camaraderie as one giant family," said Staff Sgt. AnnMarie Ringer, 510th AMU dedicated crew chief. "Our leadership are considered our dads and we are the children. We fight like brothers and sisters all the time, but when we spend more time at work with each other than at home, it does nothing but bring us closer together."

"I feel a lot closer than I would to other people on the base because of the sarcasm we have here on the flightline. Isn't that right, dad," Rindfleisch said to Mustard.

"When we joke around, it's because we are all working in the same conditions and try to make the best of it at that specific time," he continued.

With grease and dirt under their fingernails, this family of Airmen is always alert because in their line of work, things can change at a moment's notice.

"To explain what I have to deal with on the job is best described as a fortune cookie," said Staff Sgt. Eddie Santana, 510th AMU dedicated crew chief, after getting hydraulic fluid spilled in his lap. "Inside it always says, 'Be prepared for a new and different tomorrow.'

"Everything we do varies from day to day," he said. "We can tow an aircraft, change a gearbox, fix an engine and then be responsible for additional duties such as enlisted performance reports and advising Airmen. Regardless of what it is, we somehow find a way to get dirty."

While many parts of their job can be difficult for these Airmen, they agree the most difficult part of their job is switching aircraft and having to learn a new system. Crew chiefs may have worked on an F-15 Strike Eagle at a previous base and come to Aviano to work on an F-16.

"It's like working on an old Chevy 350 and then getting sent to work on a Toyota Prius," said Santana.

With smiles covered in grease and dirt and Airmen never knowing what to expect, the dedicated crew chiefs for the 510th Aircraft Maintenance Unit are always prepared and can't imagine doing anything differently.

"I love what I do. My parents think it's the coolest thing ever," said Rindfleisch. "It may not be a big deal for some, but to have your name on the side of a multi-million dollar aircraft is unbelievable. After nine years in the Air Force, that will never grow old."

5/24/2013 AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy

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F-16CM 89-2050

Published in Aircraft

While flying to an Operation Northern Watch mission on July 18, 2001, an engine failure brought the aircraft down. Captain Michael A. Nelson Jr. ejected safely at 10:09 hours at 11 miles east of Batman, Turkey at 2,000 feet. Rescue was by a HH-60G from 305th RQS. The pilot heared a loud bang followed by a buzzing noise only 35 minutes after take-off. RPM decreased and FTIT increased. He attempted 9 airstarts without success. The cause of the crash was a failure of the number 4 bearing assembly.

Yugoslavia Strike Film Elvis 52

Published in Videos

The Elvis Strike Film - Yugoslavia Footage from a Buzzard F-16 Targeting Pod.

LSC Loads F-16 during Open Base Day

Published in Videos

510th LSC loads static F-16 during Open Base Day in 2000.  The video shows the loading of GBU munitions to the 31st OSS jet.

Kosovo Buzzards

Published in Videos

Compilation of the 510th Fighter Squadron Buzzards during the Kosovo Conflict.

Aviano Augments Search for Missing Pilot

Published in In the News

The 31st Fighter Wing launched several of its F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft Jan. 29 to join the ongoing search effort for a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who was declared missing during a nighttime training mission Jan. 28.

The fighter jets will provide further assistance to the robust rescue operation already underway, joining U.S. and Italian aircraft and ships. Capt. Lucas Gruenther, 31st Fighter Wing chief of flight safety, was conducting an F-16 training sortie over the Adriatic Sea when contact was lost with his aircraft.