MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. --
In the evening hours aboard the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar flight line, squadron night crew members work through most of the night, maintaining aircraft and ensuring quality for the upcoming day of training.
From the Marine Medium Helicopter squadrons on the west of the flight line to Marine Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron 352 on the east, squadron members keep 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing operations running and prepare various aircraft for day-to-day training.
“Ninety percent of the flight schedule happens during the day, night time gives us the chance to focus on maintaining and getting jets ready for the following day,” said Cpl. Michael A. Reyes, an aviation electrician with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, Marine Aircraft Group 11 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. “It enables the pilots to train during the day by having us work on aircraft at night.”
Throughout the evening, maintainers work on the aircraft with the help of generators, flashlights and light carts, providing illumination to their dark work stations.
It is a trade off, for the night crew, explained Reyes. It isn’t as hot or noisy on the flight line, but the darkness can make it more difficult to work outside the hangar.
The day crew passes information and tasks to the night crew after they arrive for work near sunset. The day and night crews work as a team ensuring each other is fully informed by the outgoing shift to ensure a smooth and safe transition.
“It takes us three to four days to perform some inspections on the CH-53E, including day and night crew,” said Sgt. George M. Bone, an aviation electrician with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, Marine Aircraft Group 11 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. “We inspect miles upon miles of wire in this aircraft every 250 flight hours, so having the night crew enables the process to go a lot faster and keeps our aircraft up so they can fly.”
On average, Marines and sailors work between 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., sometimes pulling 12-hour shifts to make sure aircraft are ready for the daytime schedule. Some squadrons have one-third of their unit working each night.
“It can be harder working at night especially during the school year when you have to work late, sleep for a couple hours and then drive your kids to school,” said Sgt. Joshua E. Bryant, a night crew supervisor with the power line section of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232, Marine Aircraft Group 11 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. “My wife is very supportive, she understands I’m doing my job and for the past six years we’ve been married, we’ve made it through the tough times. In spite of some of the challenges, to be on night crew is an honor.”
The squadrons’ good players work at night, added Bryant. To be able to work at night means that the command trusts those Marines to have the responsibility to maintain the aircraft when less Marines are working.
As the sun rises, the day crew will take over and perform their daily tasks of maintaining aircraft and squadron operations. With both shifts’ efforts, the station flight line runs day and night, continuing to meet 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing’s mission.