MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRIMAR, Calif. (1/18/2012) -- With
their hands covered in grease and their uniform reeking of
jet fuel, the hard workers on the flight line aboard Marine
Corps Air Station Miramar spend all day ensuring the FA-18
is ready for flight.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Broderick Sizemore, a plane captain with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 and a Laketon, Ind., native, signals to the pilot to check the F/A-18C functions aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Jan. 17,
2012. Plane captains use hand-and-arm signals during their final inspection to communicate with the pilot.
Photo by USMC Lance Cpl. Rebecca
In most jobs in the Marine Corps, the work day does not end
until the job is done. For powerline plane captains with
Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101, it is no
Powerline plane captains typically work
10 to 12 hour shifts, bracing either brisk winds or the
sun's heat to inspect the aircraft. Inspections ensure there
are no leaks and nothing is loose nor missing from the
aircraft and it is ready for flight.
“The pilots are
putting their lives in our hands,” said Petty Officer 3rd
Class Broderick Sizemore, a plane captain with VMFAT-101 and
a Laketon, Ind., native. “When we inspect these aircraft, we
have to make sure nothing is missing and everything is good
to go for these pilots.”
In order to ensure this,
plane captains constantly conduct inspections. The plane
captains inspect before the pilot comes out, while the pilot
is sitting in the aircraft and post flight once the aircraft
While each specific maintenance shop
masters their own expertise, powerline plane captains are
jacks of all trades. Plane captains are responsible for
maintaining the entire aircraft and knowing all its
With safety as one of the biggest
concerns for plane captains, providing clear communication
with the pilot is vital, and is accomplished through
hand-and-arm signals. Plane captains must memorize more than
100 hand-and-arm signals to communicate with the pilot.
Because powerline plane captains have a thorough job and
the lives of the pilot's depend on them, becoming a plane
captain is a lengthy process. After completing military
occupational specialty school, training is continuous.
“We have a month-long MOS school and then come here for
on-the-job training,” said Lance Cpl. Justin Gardner, a
trainee plane captain with VMFAT-101 and a Salem, Utah,
native. “No one can teach this entire job without having
There are several components
that go into the functionality of the F/A-18. Plane captains
are the last people to look over an aircraft before it
departs. At least three plane captains go over the aircraft
to guarantee nothing was overlooked.
be a dirty job, but plane captains do not mind the grime if
it means a safe flight for the pilots.
More photos available below
By USMC Lance Cpl. Rebecca
Marine Corps Air Station
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