Burning the midnight oil

9 Sep 2010 | Lance Cpl. Justin Boling

When the sun begins to set and most service members have gone home for the day, other Marines and sailors are just beginning their day.

These service members have the night to finish tasks and get the aircraft ready for the next day of training.

“These aircraft are just like race cars- as soon as the race is over, the maintainers begin to get the vehicle ready for the next race,” said Staff Sgt. Brent Wiggins, a quality assurance representative with VMFA-122.

Just like in NASCAR the performance of Fightertown’s aircraft relies heavily on their maintenance, but what pit crews have weeks to accomplish, the night crew does in a night.

“Night crew completes the majority of the maintenance to the aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Stephanie Matthews, an avionics electrician with VMFA-122. “With day crew focusing on completing the flight schedule, the rest falls on us.”

According to Matthews, the workload can take its toll on service members, because what is not done during the day must be completed at night, in addition to other planned maintenance.

“We aim initially to finish in twelve hours, but this rarely happens,” Wiggins said. “We all stay until the aircraft are ready to fly the next day.”

All individual maintenance programs are represented at night to perform their assigned tasks. Though all shops are present during the night it is a smaller number of personnel compared to the sections during the day.

“A lot of the night crew guys are the good leaders and motivators who can get the job done right with little supervision,” Wiggins said. “With most of the senior leaders working during the day, it is up to these Marines to get the job done.”

According to Matthews, complacency is really the only thing that can cause injury or stop productivity on night crew.

“If service members listen to the briefs, keep track of tools, and watch out for each other, then every night will be successful and without incident,” Matthews said.

Whether in the middle of the day or late at night, the night crews of Fightertown keep aircraft maintained.

“The Marine and sailors who work on night crew have only their own integrity and hard work to ensure that these aircraft are ready to fly tomorrow,” Wiggins said.