I disconnect the comm cord and pull the right side chocks. I duck under the exhaust (checking again for open panels) and move over to my tool kit near the fire bottle so I can put my comm cord away. I go under the left side to pull the chocks and then head up to the front of the aircraft, off to the left where the pilot can see me and I stand at parade rest.
After a few minutes my pilot gives me a hand signal… both thumbs pointing outward and motioning apart (pull chocks). It’s more of a question since we always pull chocks prior to standing out front. I give the same hand signal back to him and follow with a thumb up and nod my head.
Then another hand signal. His right hand in the air with his first two fingers pointing up doing a quick circular motion signifying “let’s go!”.
I do a quick look around to make sure there are no vehicles, people, or other aircraft in the way, then I point at him and give the same hand signal to go.
My baby is in his hands now.
He throttles up a bit, moves forward a couple feet, then checks his brakes. With both hands in the air I motion him towards me and when he is out of the parking spot I extend my left arm out telling him he’s clear, followed by a salute and a thumb in the air.
As my jet taxis past I make it a point to run my hand down the left missile rail and smack my hand on the end of it for good luck.
The same process is repeated each time there is a flight.
After all of the hard work getting her ready, nothing compares to seeing her rolling down the runway with the augmenter blowing flame and lifting off into the blue skies. Well, seeing her return with the pilot safe is also special.
I love my job.
SSgt Jay Jenkins
122 AMXS “Blacksnakes”
Indiana Air National Guard
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