Senior leader shadows A-10 crew chief for a day

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Courtney Richardson
  • 944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Not many Airmen have the opportunity to give their leadership a first-hand look into their job and one Airmen did not let that chance slip away.

Senior Airman Matthew Pope, 924th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron tactical aircraft mechanic, spent a day showing the 924th Fighter Group superintendent, Chief Master Sergeant Catherine Buchanan, what it takes to be an A-10 Thunderbolt II crew chief.

“I have a passion for teaching so when I was asked to show her the ropes, I thought, cool this is right up my alley,” Pope said. Pope is one of many Airmen responsible for everything on the A-10 as well as coordinating with other shops such as weapons and avionics to make sure the jet is ready for the mission.

“I’ve always wanted to experience what my crew chiefs and those folks on the flightline experience on a daily basis,” Buchanan said.

The chief’s excitement for learning rubbed off on Pope, reminding him of his excitement when he initially became a crew chief and he gave her an in-depth perspective starting with the basics.

“The first thing we covered was the safety aspect of the jet, where to walk, where to stand, what to touch, what not to touch, and how to see if an aircraft is unsafe to touch,” Pope said. “Then we went through the actual launch procedures, moving step-by-step through the technical order.”

Buchanan was impressed by the dedication of her crew chiefs.

“I’ve always had a huge level of respect for Airmen who work outside in the elements but going out there watching and working as each of the 10 aircraft launches and seeing the Airmen go from one spot to the next helping each other out, was admirable,” Buchanan said. “It’s wingmanship at its finest.”

Buchanan learned how to perform a pre-flight inspection and then launched her first A-10 which was piloted by 924th FG commander.

“It was a great experience and I felt very lucky,” Buchanan said. “Pope was patient, extremely knowledgeable, and answered every question I had at a level that I could understand.”

To Pope’s surprise Buchanan remained on the flightline with her Airmen to recover the aircraft and perform a thru-flight inspection as well.

“It showed a lot of character for the chief to learn about my job and stay for the whole day. She even helped us clean up a bird strike,” Pope said. “She was just so spitfire, like ‘yeah, let’s do this.’”

Pope gained so much more respect for the chief.

“She didn’t let her rank define how involved she was going to be, she did whatever it took to be a crew chief for the day,” Pope said. “It was great.”

Buchanan thinks that these opportunities are great strides to strengthening a unit’s capabilities and building ones’ own character.

“I think shadowing any Airman in your wing, group, or unit no matter what their job is extremely important to the senior leader as well as the Airman,” said Buchanan. “They are proud of their work and if you take the time to learn about it you will have a better level of respect, improve communication, and become more patient.”

Buchanan will continue shadowing her Airmen. She feels this is the best way to help the mission, build camaraderie, and find out what’s important to them so she can help them achieve their goals.