Sheet metals shop keeps Holloman’s F-16s mission ready

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Isaiah Pedrazzini
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

Whether it's giving them new paint jobs or providing outlying repairs and inspections, the 49th Equipment Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance flight, or sheet metal, ensures that Holloman’s F-16 Vipers are structurally sound and mission ready.

The sheet metal shop is comprised of two sections; the main shop, where the majority of the flight provides routine repairs and fabrications for F-16 parts, and the corrosion shop, where Airmen ensure that all F-16 airframes are properly sanded, treated and painted to prevent corrosion.

“Our Airmen here are consistently switching between the two sections, specifically when they are going to upgrade training, so that they can learn the ins and outs of each shop,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Devyn Gourdine, 49th EMS aircraft structural maintenance craftsman. “Regardless of which shop we’re at, we all work together as a team to get the job done, making sure all parts that leave the shop are 100% capable and ready to be put back on the jet.”

The sheet metal flight works with other agencies on base to guarantee that all F-16s are in operational condition at all times, ensuring Holloman’s student pilots can continue to train.

“The crew chiefs and the nondestructive inspection personnel do a great job at maintaining and ensuring our F-16s are properly cared for, but they still need us to actually provide structure checks for the panels or parts we receive,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Justin Fail, 49th EMS aircraft structural maintenance journeyman.

With their job being highly demanding, the NCOs of the sheet metal shop make it their number one priority to train the Airmen under them to do the job just as well as they can.

“We need to make sure that we teach these new Airmen that everything that we do matters because in our career field; if we don't do our job right, people die,” said Gourdine. “If we're not installing the correct rivets, if we're not repairing the part correctly, then a jet might go down, it's important for us as NCOs to make sure these guys have the right training, the right frame of mind when it comes to the job and make sure that they ask plenty of questions.”
From the outside, sheet metal may seem to be straightforward, but the meticulous care they provide ensures Holloman’s mission continues without interruptions.
“Our job isn't just a task, it's an art that demands precision and lots of care,” said Gourdine. “Our role is vital. We as a wing support pilot training and if an aircraft isn't ready, training can't happen, so we ensure the parts we inspect meet Air Force and shop standards and keep our pilots in the sky.”