510th Fighter Squadron

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Missing F-16 Pilot's Body Recovered

Published in In the News

Buzzards everywhere send their deepest condolences as well as our thoughts and prayers to the friends and family of Lucas.  A terrible loss....

An Italian vessel on the Adriatic Sea on Thursday recovered the body of F-16 pilot Capt. Lucas Gruenther, announced officials at Aviano AB, Italy. Gruenther had been missing since Monday when contact was lost with his F-16 during a nighttime training mission over the water. He was chief of flight safety for Aviano's 31st Fighter Wing.

USAF F-16 Aircraft Crashes in Turkey

Published in In the News

ANKARA, Turkey {AP}— A U.S. F-16 fighter jet heading for a patrol over northern Iraq crashed in Turkey on Wednesday after apparently suffering engine problems, the first U.S. warplane to go down in more than 200,000 flights over the no-fly zones.

Buzzards RULE!

Published in Videos

Another awesome compilation video of the 510th EFS which was deployed to Bagram Airfield Afghanistan.  Video shows Pilot, Maintainers, Jets, Drop Videos...  AWESOME!

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

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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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.

Kosovo Buzzards

Published in Videos

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

U.S. pilots from the 555th and 510th Fighter Squadrons based out of Aviano Air Base, Italy, have been given a rare opportunity to train and share experiences with Bulgarian air force MiG-21 and MiG-29 pilots during their deployment here in support of Thracian Star 2012.

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.

U.S. military officials are coordinating search and rescue efforts with Italian military and civilian teams following the loss of communication with an Aviano F-16 fighter jet Monday evening. The aircraft, assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing, was performing a training mission over the Adriatic Sea when the base lost contact with the pilot at approximately 8 p.m. Soon after, Italian aircraft and ships were dispatched to the missing jet's last known location.