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Helping F-35A pilots operate, survive at Red Flag

Tech. Sgt. Anthony Farnsworth works on flight equipment

Tech. Sgt. Anthony Farnsworth, aircrew flight equipment craftsman in the 419th Operations Support Flight, works on flight equipment at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Feb. 5, 2019. AFE Airmen manage, check, and prepare gear that pilots need to fly and survive in the event of an emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The F-35 is lethal and survivable in almost any environment, but it’s just a machine, unable to do anything without a skilled pilot. Those pilots need gear to interface with the jet, operate and survive. 

Outfitting the pilots is the job of the Airmen in the aircrew flight equipment shop. A handful of active duty and Reserve personnel are currently deployed to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, for Red Flag 19-1. 

Red Flag is the Air Force’s premier combat training exercise where units from across the Air Force join with allied nations in a “blue force” to combat a “red force” in a variety of challenging scenarios over three weeks. 

“I love it,” said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Farnsworth, 419th Operations Support Flight. “We like Red Flag because we get to focus entirely on the job here just like we would if we were actually deployed.”

Farnsworth and his team show up hours before the mission begins to check and prepare “anything and everything” pilots need to fly the jet or survive in case of an emergency – jackets, harnesses, G-suits, oxygen masks, helmets, survival kits, and parachutes.

“I love being part of the F-35 program, because it’s new and advanced,” said Airman 1st Class Ryan Joplin, 388th Operations Support Squadron. “The helmet is really integrated with the jet and the pilot. We’re responsible for keeping up the helmet and we’re the first one they come to for help.” 

As Joplin inspects helmets, Airman 1st Class Henri Steel uses a compressor to pump air into a G-suit to ensure it can withstand the pressure.

“They need this G-suit to work. These bladders fill up with air and compress around their legs to keep their blood circulating so they don’t lose consciousness when they’re pulling Gs,” Steel said. “I know what I’m doing is important.” 

All of the Airmen say that while the job is rewarding and they know they have a direct impact on the mission, the thing they enjoy most is their relationship with the pilots. 

“We get to see them on a day-to-day basis, communicate with them,” Joplin said. “It’s nice to relate to them as humans rather than just as uniforms.” 

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What's your favorite jet on display here at the museum? Feel free to share your photos here! #avgeek
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In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 We moved in great shape. The entire group was out in 3 hours but the plane we are now at…Gee it’s terrible. Had my first trip over the lines today in the SPAD and not quite as well pleased with same as I expected to be.
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In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 Was out on patrol this morning. Met 6 enemy planes. Had a combat without results. Have the SPAD in shape now and expect to go out tomorrow with a patrol. Just received news that we are moving tomorrow. Certainly we are leaving the finest home we have yet had.
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In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 Lt. Meissner and Lt. Coolidge brought down an enemy plane today. Lt. [William W.] Chalmers has failed to return. Up to a late hour.
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This is the cockpit of the Fairchild C-119J Flying Boxcar on display in the fourth building. Congrats to all who guessed correctly! --> http://bit.ly/2LAQuzH
In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 Arrived here OK with new plane. Heard the 95th Squadron lost 2 men today, certainly hard luck.
Are you visiting the museum today? Feel free to share your photos here! #avgeek #airhistory #F22
In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 Arranged for a 230 [horsepower] SPAD which I will fly out tomorrow. Had a trial trip today. It certainly is a most wonderful Buss.
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In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 Big day. We left for Paris. Most of the boys had a big time. I spent a peaceful afternoon and returning then went to bed.
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In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 The 27th Squadron lost 2 more today. One of my hometown – [Lt. Walter B.] Wanamaker was his name. I must call on his family when returning home.
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Meet Senior Airman Zack Sherman, a 24-year-old @thef35 maintainer in the @AirForceReserve @HAFB https://t.co/acf9VNR86k
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