Videos: Today's Military
    Air National Guard

    Ready for Takeoff(01:54)

    Senior Airman Nicole Young inspects a KC-135, a refueling aircraft, inside and out, and then she assists with takeoff. After the plane takes off, Young salutes the aircraft.

    Young, who is stationed in Phoenix, is a full-time student at Arizona State University and an aircraft mechanic in the Air National Guard. Members of the Air National Guard are trained to handle the exact same responsibilities as members of the active-duty Air Force.

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Senior Airman Nicole Young: I'm Senior Airman Nicole Young. I am an aircraft maintenance apprentice. We are responsible for the mission capability of our aircraft. That involves inspections, routine maintenance and unexpected maintenance at home base or, you know, on the road while we're deployed.

I personally work on the KC135 air refueler. The crew chiefs always show up two hours early, go out there and open up the planes so we just take all the covers off, all of the to be removed before flights, all the safety, usually precautions, and check the forms, make sure that the aircraft is mission capable. If everything checks out, we're waiting for the pilots to come out, and then they do a walk-around, they do their inspection.

If they do their inspection and accept the aircraft, then they have accepted the responsibility for the aircraft. At that point, they go up into the aircraft, and we're called flight controls. When you're calling flight controls, which is what we call it when you have the headset on, you're talking to everybody up in the planes: pilot, co-pilot and the boom operator. And they're doing stuff up there, and you're just calling back to them what you see just to make sure that when they're, you know, whatever they're doing up there matches what is supposed to be happening downstairs.

When we go up front, we're doing engine starts. They ask if we're clear for the particular engine they're ready to start. So you know I would just respond to them, you know, engine number three is clear forward and aft. And at the very end we do an "EFIS" check. They'll spool up number-one and number-four motors and see if their rudder reacts the way it's supposed to, to counter. And then after that, we marshal them out and see them off.

We salute the plane, I don't think we're required to do it. Everybody just does it. And it feels really good, like you just know this plane is leaving and you've helped this plane get into the air, and it's going to go and help the greater cause, and you can be a part of that, and I think it's just — it's really awesome. I get goosebumps every time I marshal out a plane.