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Gamblers Never Fold
by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer
July 18, 2019

Being the last person pilots see upon takeoff and first upon arrival is a heavy task, one taken on by 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, tactical aircraft maintainers.

These Airmen work to get F-16CJ Fighting Falcons safely off the ground and back no matter the hours it may take; strictly abiding by their motto, “These Gamblers never fold.”

The 77th AMU, also referred to as the Gamblers AMU, consist of tactical aircraft maintainers, also known as dedicated crew chiefs. Though these Airmen play a crucial role in mission success, they would not be able to complete their mission and get jets in the air without help from the other shops-avionics service technicians and communications technicians.

March 11, 2019 - U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen Jacob Leighton, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS), 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) tactical aircraft maintainer, left, wipes a panel, while Staff Sgt. Jeremy Gonzalez, right, and Airman 1st Class Austin Deney, 20th AMXS, 77th AMU avionics specialists, work on the computer system in an F-16CJ Fighting Falcon at Shaw Air Force Base, SC. Both career fields have to work in tandem so pilots can stay safe during flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)
March 11, 2019 - U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen Jacob Leighton, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS), 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) tactical aircraft maintainer, left, wipes a panel, while Staff Sgt. Jeremy Gonzalez, right, and Airman 1st Class Austin Deney, 20th AMXS, 77th AMU avionics specialists, work on the computer system in an F-16CJ Fighting Falcon at Shaw Air Force Base, SC. Both career fields have to work in tandem so pilots can stay safe during flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)

“We maintain F-16’s for training sorties while at home station and combat sorties when deployed,” said Staff Sgt. Taylor Hendricks, 20th AMXS, 77th AMU dedicated crew chief. “Crew chiefs change the tires, service the systems and change most of the parts to ensure it’s safe for flight.”

Hendricks went on to say without Gambler AMU avionics technicians, the engines and electrical systems would not be up-to-par for crew chiefs to do their jobs. While crew chiefs are responsible for the maintenance of their jets, they have to draw on the knowledge of avionics technicians for electrical work and expertise, components out of their realm of maintenance knowledge.

“A good crew chief is going to work with every shop to know exactly what is happening with his aircraft at all times and keep tabs on everything to give the pilots a near-perfect product,” said Senior Airman Jacob Leighton, 20th AMXS, 77th AMU dedicated crew chief.

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Gonzalez, 20th AMXS, 77th AMU avionics specialist, said they maintain all computer systems and avionics equipment on F-16s, including air-data systems, radio, electronic counter measures and flight patrols for the crew chiefs.

March 11, 2019 - U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Leighton, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS), 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) tactical aircraft maintainer, left, alongside, Airman 1st Class Austin Deney 20th AMXS, 77th AMU avionics specialist, right, secure an F-16CJ Fighting Falcon, as a pilot prepares to exit his jet, at Shaw Air Force Base, SC. Dedicated crew chiefs put in countless hours of work in conjunction with many other career fields to keep their respective jet properly maintained. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)
March 11, 2019 - U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Leighton, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS), 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) tactical aircraft maintainer, left, alongside, Airman 1st Class Austin Deney 20th AMXS, 77th AMU avionics specialist, right, secure an F-16CJ Fighting Falcon, as a pilot prepares to exit his jet, at Shaw Air Force Base, SC. Dedicated crew chiefs put in countless hours of work in conjunction with many other career fields to keep their respective jet properly maintained. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)

“We work in tandem with crew chiefs, having to constantly keep communication and make sure everything is good on their end before we crack into the computer systems or attempt to fix anything beyond their realm on their aircraft,” said Gonzalez.

Leighton said the Gamblers AMU is truly a deck of cards, as the crew chiefs would not be able to succeed without the help of avionics specialist technicians, weather technicians, communications technicians, or aircraft flight equipment technicians. All work together so the pilots, who ultimately make use of everyone’s hard work, can take-off in a $14.6 million asset and ensure mission success with precise equipment.

From crew chief to pilot, these Gamblers never fold.

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