Junior sailors ensure safety of pilots and multimillion-dollar aircraft
ABOARD THE USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER — There is a maxim about the military: make rank and gain responsibility.
Many of the larger responsibilities are given to those with the knowledge and experience that comes from time in and rising through the ranks.
Not true for all. Plane captains are among the most junior enlisted servicemembers, yet, they are responsible for multimillion dollar naval aircraft and the lives of the pilots who fly them.
“If we aren’t doing everything right, we are essentially putting the pilots life in our hands. It could become very dangerous,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Desiree Moon, a plane captain with Strike Fighter Squadron 131 deployed in the Middle East with the Eisenhower Strike Group. “So we’ve got to make sure everything is good.”
The plane captain’s pre-flight checks are one of the final steps before a naval aircraft takes off.
They check everything from the tires to the cockpits. They look for any foreign object that could cause damage, cracks, missing fasteners; they ensure the antennas are intact and that everything the aircraft needs to be mission-ready is in place. Plane captains are also responsible for the cleanliness of the aircraft, especially the canopy.
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