926th AMXS Keeps 'Red Air' Flying in Red Flag 16-3

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Brett Clashman
  • 926th Wing Public Affairs

Reasons to join the Air Force come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s for the benefits, higher education or the experience, the Air Force is filled with endless opportunity. In this case, the 926th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s Master Sgt. Michael Paterson and Staff Sgt. Brian Kay wanted to be a part of something big, like being engaged in the 64th Aggressors Squadron’s mission to test other units' capabilities in the largest aerial combat training exercise, hosted here at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

Paterson, who is a 926th AMXS flightline expeditor, traveled from Eugene, Oregon, to accomplish his annual tour with the Air Force Reserve and participate in Red Flag 16-3.

“It’s my first annual tour as an expeditor, experiencing a dynamic environment like Red Flag,” Paterson said. “I’m hoping to become more proficient at my job so when the 926th mission needs me, I’ll be well trained for the future.”

Flightline expeditors hold key responsibilities, ensuring crew chiefs are assigned at the appropriate levels for mission requirements and that aircraft continue to produce airpower.

“Red Flag is a great learning opportunity,” Paterson added. “To put it in perspective, working two weeks in an accelerated environment like this exercise is equivalent to six weeks of normal operations.”

Kay, a 926th AMXS F-16 crew chief and native to Las Vegas, is also completing his annual tour during Red Flag 16-3 maintaining the Fighting Falcons.

“My normal job on the outside is quite different from what I do at Nellis,” Kay said. “Red Flag is always a busy time of the year, so we stress the importance of accomplishing quality work in a timely fashion to keep the jets flying.”

Crew chiefs in the Air Force direct the ground-handling and servicing of the appropriate aircraft they’re assigned to.

Kay shared that previous training helped give him the edge in an environment like Red Flag.

“I’ve spent time in active duty as a core F-16 crew chief,” Kay added. “The knowledge I gained throughout my previous experience is not lost, which is what the Air Force focuses on--ensuring the best training continues with the Airmen.”

Paterson shared his feelings being in a capacity where he can provide training for units participating in Red Flag.

“It’s a really valuable tool to fix the 'enemy jets,’ allowing units to practice against our flyers,” Paterson stated. “It’s a really rewarding experience to be a part of this exercise.”