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Airfield management: From arrival to departure

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Airman 1st Class Jesus Vera, 21st Operations Support Squadron airfield management shift lead, reads a printout from a Bowmonk AFM2 airfield friction meter after testing the braking conditions of the apron Dec. 31, 2014. Airfield management is responsible for the safety of all incoming and outgoing aircraft and their crews, ranging from inspecting and maintaining the runways, taxiways and aprons of the airfield to responding to in-flight emergencies and coordinating with other base agencies to make aircrews’ stays as efficient as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Airman 1st Class Jesus Vera, 21st Operations Support Squadron airfield management shift lead, reads a printout from a Bowmonk AFM2 airfield friction meter after testing the braking conditions of the apron Dec. 31, 2014. Airfield management is responsible for the safety of all incoming and outgoing aircraft and their crews, ranging from inspecting and maintaining the runways, taxiways and aprons of the airfield to responding to in-flight emergencies and coordinating with other base agencies to make aircrews’ stays as efficient as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – The traffic control tower overlooks the goings-on of the Peterson airfield. Airfield management is responsible for the safety of all incoming and outgoing aircraft and their crews, ranging from inspecting and maintaining the runways, taxiways and aprons of the airfield to responding to in-flight emergencies and coordinating with other base agencies to make aircrews’ stays as efficient as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – The traffic control tower overlooks the goings-on of the Peterson airfield. Airfield management is responsible for the safety of all incoming and outgoing aircraft and their crews, ranging from inspecting and maintaining the runways, taxiways and aprons of the airfield to responding to in-flight emergencies and coordinating with other base agencies to make aircrews’ stays as efficient as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Many pilots and crews that pass through Peterson add their unit patch to the collection displayed in the flight planning room at Peterson’s base operations. Airfield management is responsible for the safety of all incoming and outgoing aircraft and their crews, ranging from inspecting and maintaining the runways, taxiways and aprons of the airfield to responding to in-flight emergencies and coordinating with other base agencies to make aircrews’ stays as efficient as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Many pilots and crews that pass through Peterson add their unit patch to the collection displayed in the flight planning room at Peterson’s base operations. Airfield management is responsible for the safety of all incoming and outgoing aircraft and their crews, ranging from inspecting and maintaining the runways, taxiways and aprons of the airfield to responding to in-flight emergencies and coordinating with other base agencies to make aircrews’ stays as efficient as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – The flight planning room is equipped with anything pilots and their crews could possibly need to create new flight plans after stopping at Peterson’s base operations. Airfield management is responsible for the safety of all incoming and outgoing aircraft and their crews, ranging from inspecting and maintaining the runways, taxiways and aprons of the airfield to responding to in-flight emergencies and coordinating with other base agencies to make aircrews’ stays as efficient as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – The flight planning room is equipped with anything pilots and their crews could possibly need to create new flight plans after stopping at Peterson’s base operations. Airfield management is responsible for the safety of all incoming and outgoing aircraft and their crews, ranging from inspecting and maintaining the runways, taxiways and aprons of the airfield to responding to in-flight emergencies and coordinating with other base agencies to make aircrews’ stays as efficient as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Airman 1st Class Jesus Vera, 21st Operations Support Squadron airfield management shift lead, poses for a photo on the flightline Dec. 31, 2014. Airfield management is responsible for the safety of all incoming and outgoing aircraft and their crews, ranging from inspecting and maintaining the runways, taxiways and aprons of the airfield to responding to in-flight emergencies and coordinating with other base agencies to make aircrews’ stays as efficient as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Airman 1st Class Jesus Vera, 21st Operations Support Squadron airfield management shift lead, poses for a photo on the flightline Dec. 31, 2014. Airfield management is responsible for the safety of all incoming and outgoing aircraft and their crews, ranging from inspecting and maintaining the runways, taxiways and aprons of the airfield to responding to in-flight emergencies and coordinating with other base agencies to make aircrews’ stays as efficient as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Airman 1st Class Jesus Vera, 21st Operations Support Squadron airfield management shift lead, radios results to the office after completing a runway condition reading on the flightline Dec. 31, 2014. Airfield management is responsible for the safety of all incoming and outgoing aircraft and their crews, ranging from inspecting and maintaining the runways, taxiways and aprons of the airfield to responding to in-flight emergencies and coordinating with other base agencies to make aircrews’ stays as efficient as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Airman 1st Class Jesus Vera, 21st Operations Support Squadron airfield management shift lead, radios results to the office after completing a runway condition reading on the flightline Dec. 31, 2014. Airfield management is responsible for the safety of all incoming and outgoing aircraft and their crews, ranging from inspecting and maintaining the runways, taxiways and aprons of the airfield to responding to in-flight emergencies and coordinating with other base agencies to make aircrews’ stays as efficient as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A C-130 Hercules taxies down the apron and parks in front of base operations before the crew disembarks. Because of low fuel, they had to divert to Peterson to replenish their supply before continuing their journey.

Everything about their visit, ranging from coordinating airfield support and making sure the aircraft is aware of runway conditions, to helping the pilots with new flight plans and refueling themselves before taking off again is something many don't think about. Every single detail falls squarely on the shoulders of airfield management.

Airman 1st Class Jesus Vera, 21st Operations Support Squadron airfield management shift lead, is one of the Airmen who make sure everything runs smoothly when it comes to supporting aircraft and their mission.

"It's our job to ensure the safe and efficient operations of the airfield," Vera said. "From pavement conditions of the taxiways and apron to (foreign object debris) and even (Air Force Instructions) for paint thickness."

A benefit to airfield management is the balance between working indoors and getting outside to work on the flightline. Vera said it's the best of both worlds.

"Inside we're tracking flights, helping pilots with flight plans and doing a little bit of admin work, and outside we get to do braking tests to check the conditions of the pavement for incoming aircraft," Vera said. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Each day starts with an airfield check, which Vera said he enjoys doing. He routinely does FOD checks, inspects the pavement for cracks or chipping paint and does a lighting check at night.

"We also do (runway condition readings)," he said. "There is a friction meter in the truck which tests the friction and braking on the pavement for the aircraft."

A reading is taken every 1,000 feet by braking in a vehicle to determine how slippery the surface is when there is snow, rain or any type of precipitation on the airfield.

"If we find anything wrong during a check, we work with various agencies to make sure it gets fixed," Vera said.

Airfield management works with many other base agencies to get the mission done, he said. Whether it's the civil engineer squadron to maintain the airfield or lodging for crews needing to stay a night or two.

"We see the whole mission here," Vera said. "Whatever the aircraft and their crews need, we work with other base agencies to make sure it happens. From arrival to departure."

In addition to all the inspections and tasks they do, Airmen in airfield management require thorough knowledge of the meticulous details regarding the airfield in the AFIs.

"We apply the AFIs every day," he said. "It's the only way to know the tiny details of everything we do."

And that is Vera's favorite part of the job. He said he enjoys reading the AFIs because it helps him learn more about airfield operations, which he can then apply to become the best at what he does.

"I just want to do my job well," he said. "I want to learn the ins and outs of the job and perform at a high level all the time."

Whether it's tracking flights or checking on the paint thickness on the flightline, Vera and his fellow Airmen ensure the incoming and outbound aircraft can safely complete the mission.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui