SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – A successful mission is always built on the foundation of training, whether it’s technical training in aircraft maintenance, civil engineering, cyber warfare and logistics, or the intense programs student pilots undergo.
Tech. Sgt. Ryan McBride, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the 19th Maintenance Squadron’s metals technology shop at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, was on the right side of a success story when his idea to have a C-130J Super Hercules hydraulic pump bracket fabricated using 3D printing technology was realized. While the creation of the part did not happen in a traditional metals technology fashion, it still took a foundational knowledge to be able to envision the product from beginning to end.
“Metals technology allows you to use your skills or imagination to produce the required part or solve whatever problem is at hand,” he directed toward metals tech Airmen in Training. “Do not be afraid to fail. This job requires intense training and proficiency to accomplish every job successfully.”
Having previously worked as a propulsion maintainer before cross training into his current career field in 2013, McBride has a unique perspective on the differences between the career fields. While most aircraft maintenance jobs rely on the use of technical orders to provide step-by-step instructions, metals tech Airmen don’t have TOs providing them detailed instructions on how to create something from raw metal pieces.
The knowledge to do that is learned here at Sheppard AFB, home to the 361st Training Squadron’s Metals Technology schoolhouse. McBride said technical training gives Airmen the foundation to get simple tasks done when they arrive at their first duty station. He encouraged Airmen to “stay busy, help out, and learn as much as you can” during their first year that will involve more training and honing their craft.
He said the training and refinement of techniques used in the industry is what makes metals technology the maintenance world’s last defense to returning a broken aircraft into a mission-ready weapon of war.
“We fix problems no other shop can figure out,” he said. “Problems such as stuck screws, cracked structural brackets, identifying worn out parts, and fabricating new parts from scratch the Air Force can no longer get their hands on … solving these issues puts our aircraft back in the fight.”