Airman Mixes Military, Civilian Skills at Selfridge Air Show

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Members of the Michigan Air National Guard are accustomed to juggling their military duties with a civilian career. In the case of one Citizen-Airman at the 2011 Selfridge Air Show and Open House, those duties conveniently overlapped.

One weekend a month, Senior Airman Ryan Dunlap works as a member of the emergency management team at Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Detroit. In his civilian capacity, he works as an aircraft maintenance technician with Delta Air Lines, which operates a hub at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. While working at Selfridge during the base's air show, Dunlap was able to provide assistance on a mechanical issue with a Delta airliner that had landed at Selfridge and was on display for the air show.

"I stopped by the Delta aircraft to see the crew and anyone else I may have known," Dunlap said.

Once there, he met up with Doug Mann, Delta's regional director of maintenance, who was part of the crew traveling with the aircraft. He and other Delta personnel were working on a maintenance issue, just as Dunlap stopped by.

Just as aircraft maintainers with the U.S. Air Force make maintenance and aircraft safety their top priority, so do the crews at Delta, Dunlap said.

The problem was quickly diagnosed and the necessary repairs made - probably without the knowledge of most of the air show visitors, hundreds of whom walked through the airliner.

"We worked together as a team to return the aircraft to an airworthiness condition," Dunlap said.

That kind of teamwork is essential in the Air National Guard, said Chief Master Sgt. Mike Carroll, Dunlap's military supervisor.

"Both the Guard and our Airmen's civilian employers often benefit from the skills that a person learns in one arena and can put to use in another," Carroll said. "It isn't often that an Airman's civilian and military jobs directly intersect like that, but I wasn't surprised when Airman Dunlap was so willing to lend a hand."

Working with Delta at the air show was far from Dunlap's first experience working on a military flight line. He served for four years on active duty with the Air Force as a crew chief on F-15 Eagles. After a break in service of several years during which he attended college and began his job with Delta, Dunlap enlisted in the Air National Guard at Selfridge about a year ago.

"I always knew I wanted to continue to serve and the Guard gives me a great way to do that," he said.