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Wheel Wizards keep Eglin’s F-35s rolling

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stormy Archer
  • 33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Whether your landing style is silky smooth or resembles an intense carrier landing the “Wheel Wizards” of the 33rd Maintenance Squadron Wheel and Tire Shop are ready where the rubber meets the road.

Since the beginning of 2016 the Airmen and Sailors of the 33rd MXS Wheel and Tire Shop have built more than 300 tires for the Air Force and Navy variants of the F-35 here. The tires for both variants are similar enough, personnel are able to work on tires for both aircraft.

As the only integrated wheel and tire shop in the F-35 program, these Airmen and Sailors have the unique opportunity to learn the customs and culture of one of their sister services while providing support to the development of the newest aircraft in the fleet.

“Working together helps us learn from each other,” Petty Officer 1st Class Fredrick Logan, 33rd MXS aviation structural mechanic, said. “We both have unique styles and ways of doing things and it helps us grow as a team. We’re learning together in an environment that is new to everyone and right now we are at the tip of the spear.”

Tires coming into the shop are checked in and cataloged before heading to the bead breaker where the tire is separated from the wheel. After being separated, the wheel is taken to the parts washer to clean off brake dust and excess lubricant before being reassembled with a new tire.

“When it comes to any kind of maintenance and doing our job here, we are all on the same page,” Logan said. “Our priority is to send quality products out the door.”

Working with sister services can present unique challenges that prepare service members for working in a joint environment while deployed.

“This is my first time working in a joint environment,” Staff Sgt. Mark Gower, 33rd MXS wheel and tire technician, said. “It’s pretty cool seeing how another branch does things compared to how we normally do things. It’s been very beneficial and a positive experience.”

The joint experience and shared refinement of procedure will allow service members to better serve combatant commanders as the F-35 approaches initial operating capability.

 “Sometimes the main barrier we have is the difference in terminology and acronyms,” Logan said. “It doesn’t matter what branch you fall under, we are all on the same team. My vision is to be the best wheel and tire shop in the Department of Defense.”

Despite their different backgrounds, the members of the 33rd MXS are united under a common goal.

 “Being able to work and learn together improves the future of the F-35,” Logan said. “We might do things differently, but we are all professionals.”

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