What has the 114th Fighter Wing of the South Dakota Air National Guard got to do with the F-16 fighter jets?

They have the important mission of serving the country and the state. How? Let’s take a closer look at what they do every single day on the base to understand what their patriotic role is.

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The F16 fighter jets are under the support, maintenance and flight control of the 114th Fighter Wing of the South Dakota Air National Guard.

The F16s In The Hands Of 114th Fighter Wing
For the F-16 fighter jets, no army can be better than the 1,000 strong 114th Fighter Wing of the South Dakota Air National Guard when it comes to providing support and maintenance and flying the aircraft.

There are over 1,000 men and women serving this particular Air Guard wing. And for each of these men and women, the day begins at approximately 0645 before sunrise. The power production shop crews make their way to the runway after they have done an “FOD check” to make sure there are no foreign objects on the runway that might ruin the massive jet engine. Even the smallest bit of rock caught by the jet’s tires would cause the fighter jet some serious damage.

Shop Crews Work The Runways
Shop crews go inside each and every pit underneath the runways. This is where the shop crews check and make sure that all of the emergency gear – the Bach 12, for the fighter jet is ready at any given time. The emergency gear works with cables that go up and down on the runway and together they can actually cause the F16 to slow down or come to a complete stop. Chip Carda is the head of the power production shop and he explained that the emergency gears are only used in emergency situations.

If motor vehicles have air bags, the Bach-12 acts more like one. So the shop crews have to make sure that they work when they need to work especially taking into consideration a pilot’s life and a jet that’s valued at $22 million.  And not many people know the kind of job they do with underground machinery in restricted areas like the pits underneath the runway. When things go wrong, they can’t run to the field telephone systems to report and call for help. They resolve everything from down in the pits. Not the kind of job most people would be familiar with anyway.

Maintenance Crews Work The Hangar
Over in the hangar, another group from the 114th Fighter Wing has its own tasks and responsibilities. They are the maintenance crews – they are dedicated to one aircraft and their job is to make that aircraft fly. For this group, their crew chief is Lauck. He explained that a lot of things happen in the facility before any one of the 22 F16s can take off. The blades are inspected by the crews to make sure that everything works well up to the last flight. The crews crawl and check the jet for anything that shouldn’t be there, from the first flight up to the last one.

From Routine Checks To Launch
The crews of the 114th Fighter Wing stay with the aircraft, doing scheduled and unscheduled work until take off. According to Chief Lauck, when they do a launch, they do it with the fighter jet’s engine running and with a communications headset. They make sure that things are working with the pilot, as they check and go through all the flight control checks. Lauck said that’s his favorite part. When everything checks out, they lead the fighter jet out of the parking spot as it heads for the taxi-way and the runway.

Figuring Out The Avionics Puzzle
For Tech Sergeant Emily Rollason, the “fun” in the avionics puzzle is in the prospect of figuring out how the different systems in the cockpit work together in an integrated way and what causes them not to work in some instances. The fighter jets are towed to their spot on the ramp when they get the OK from the avionics crews. More routine checks are done on the ramp ahead of the launch. While this is happening, selected pilots of the 114th Fighter Wing are being briefed for the day’s mission.

Pilot’s Briefing
Pilots’ briefing is done an hour or so before they step out and gear up for the flight. With a lot of gear to put on and take with them for the mission, every step leading to the launch is crucial.

Chop, one of the newest pilots of the 114th Fighter Wing explained that the military is a precise machine. Things have to be done in a precise way and at a precise moment. They have a lot of things in their power and those things need to be carefully and thoroughly checked.

Training And Practicing Constantly For The Mission
The pilots and crews of this particular Air Guard wing are constantly training and practicing what they need to do if they are ever called upon to keep the country safe during a crisis. Chop said that they have vast space around Sioux Falls all the way down to Kansas where they can practice different missions – from launching ground attacks or attacking other fighter jets. There is a reason why the F16 fighter jet is a great fighter and has been around for so long – the F16s can do a variety of things and do them well.

Two-Fold Mission

  • The mission of the 114th Fighter Wing is two-fold:To serve the state of Dakota
  • To serve the United States of America

Every member of the 114th Fighter Wing has a job to do and everyone counts, regardless if he’s a new recruit or who just came back from school. Every little effort counts and is important. The end goal is to put the bombs on a target (enemy) or save a life or property in the state (Dakota).

One Last Check Before Launch
When the pilots are geared up and ready to go, they proceed to their F16 to get ready for the launch. By this time, the maintenance crews from the hangar resurface to make sure one last time that everything goes without a hitch. It would take around 45 minutes on the ramp, before the jets are propelled to go!

F16 Support: An Entire Base And 1000 Strong Men And Women
The pilot may be the one who presses the button to drop the bomb or shoot missiles, but the F16 fighter jets have an entire base coming together – from the maintenance team, intelligence to the technical crews that work together with such precision to carry out a mission that is critical to the country.

So the next time you hear the noise in the sky, could you please remember the people who work tirelessly every day to launch that noisy piece of metal in the sky?

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2 thoughts on “What The Men And Women Of The 114th Fighter Wing of The Air National Guard Do”

  1. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that these dedicated men and women of the national guard begin their day of duties before sunrise. That is typical of the discipline of a member of the armed forces. The responsibilities of these people are clearly vital to the safety and success of any flight mission. It is complicated to launch a jet fighter off of an aircraft carrier. So many things have to be done right. One wrong move and it could put someone’s life in jeapordy.

  2. I commend the men and women of the National Guard. They do outstanding work. In fact, I saw on the news that more than 400 National Guard troops in six states were assisting authorities during snowstorms in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The Virginia National Guard had about 70 Soldiers staged and ready at facilities from Northern Virginia to the Shenandoah Valley and the southwest corner of the state for possible response operations due to heavy snow or potential flooding.

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