Technicians fuel wing, critical to mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jesse Lopez
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
If the heart and soul of the 97th Air Mobility Wing are the U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III and the U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker, then the 827,000 gallons of fuel maintained by the 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels specialists are the lifeblood of the wing.

However, fuels specialists aren't solely aircraft gas pumpers.

"Generally, the fuels flight is thought of as Airmen who solely fill up aircraft but there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in the laboratory before the fuel reaches the aircraft," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Zakkary Wiest, 97th Logistic Readiness Squadron lab technician.

Fuels lab technicians provide clean, dry aviation and ground fuel to support the strategic airlift, aerial delivery and air refueling missions of Altus AFB.

"Without suitable, uncontaminated fuels, aircraft wouldn't be able to get off the ground and training for pilots and boom operators would be hindered," said Wiest.

Fifty-four million gallons of aviation fuel are issued annually to Altus AFB, which has the largest disbursement of fuel in Air Education and Training Command. So, to ensure their fuels product is of the highest quality, the fuels lab performs approximately 1,100 analyses per month, vital in supporting the 7,900 local sorties and countless transient aircraft annually.

"We analyze millions of gallons of fuels and it's all accredited to our well trained Airmen adhering to the high lab standards," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Paul Hammer III, 97th Logistic Readiness Squadron fuels operations section chief. "These standards are essential to continuing the mission of the 97th AMW."

Of course, pumping thousands of gallons of jet fuel into an aircraft about to head out on a mission signifies the success of the fuels lab.