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Aircrew flight equipment Airman serves with pride

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Chelsea E. FitzPatrick
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs

     Helping a pilot tie their boots after donning a specialized flight suit may seem like a small task, harkening to a young child learning to tie their shoes, but the Airman caring for the pilot in that small way is part of an important military career field: aircrew flight equipment. 

     Senior Airman Tiffany McPherson, an aircrew flight equipment team member assigned to the 127th Operation Support Squadron, 127th Wing, based at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, has traveled a winding road in her path to serve, having spent time in all components of the U.S. Air Force. Now she finds herself working at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, supporting A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft pilots. 

     The daughter of a Marine Corps veteran, McPherson enlisted in the active component of the  U.S. Air Force for one year, then served three years in the Air Force Reserve before taking a 10-year hiatus to focus on her family. When she returned to service, she chose the Michigan National Guard and five years later, she is working on a State Partnership Program mission in Latvia. With one of the longest-running partnerships, the Michigan National Guard and Latvia have benefitted from more than 30 years of military-to-military engagements, helping  both countries support shared defense-security goals and facilitate joint, international interactions.

     As an aircrew flight equipment Airman, McPherson is responsible for fitting, inspecting, maintaining and repairing all equipment the pilots need to execute their mission.

     “We are responsible for the life support and survival gear that they rely on within the jet, [and during an emergency ejection] the equipment they would need to survive until rescue operations are complete,” McPherson said.
     Flying an A-10 requires a lot of gear: helmets, harnesses, anti-gravity suits, night vision goggles, targeting equipment, radios, personal flotation devices, parachutes, survival kits, tracking devices and more. McPherson and her team take care of it all. 
     “AFE is very important to the flying mission,” McPherson said. “We work directly with each pilot to make sure their gear fits, and is as comfortable as we can make it, while still ensuring strict Air Force standards are maintained.”

     After spending the day taking care of pilots as a member of the aircrew flight equipment team, McPherson joins her partner at  home to take care of their four children, who she says are, “pretty cool.”
Ultimately, she hopes to share her pride of service and patriotism to her children.  

     “As a little girl I was proud of my Father for his service in the Marine Corps, and I want to pass on the same honor and pride to my family.