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Wheel Wizards keep Eglin’s F-35s rolling

Members of the 33rd Maintenance Squadron assemble an F-35 tire June 9, 2016, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The F-35 Wheel and Tire Shop at Eglin AFB is the only wheel and tire shop in the F-35 program that is integrated with both Air Force and Navy personnel. The 33rd MXS Wheel and Tire Shop builds an average of 50 a month for F-35s stationed at Eglin AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer/Released)

Members of the 33rd Maintenance Squadron assemble an F-35 tire June 9, 2016, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The F-35 Wheel and Tire Shop at Eglin AFB is the only wheel and tire shop in the F-35 program that is integrated with both Air Force and Navy personnel. The 33rd MXS Wheel and Tire Shop builds an average of 50 a month for F-35s stationed at Eglin AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer/Released)

Staff Sgt. Mark Gower, 33rd Maintenance Squadron wheel and tire technician, Petty Officer 2nd Class Carlos Mazza, 33rd MXS aviation structural mechanic, and Petty Officer 1st Class Fredrick Logan 33rd MXS aviation structural mechanic, assemble an F-35 wheel June 9, 2016, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The F-35 Wheel and Tire Shop at Eglin AFB is the only wheel and tire shop in the F-35 program that is integrated with both Air Force and Navy personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer/Released)

Staff Sgt. Mark Gower, 33rd Maintenance Squadron wheel and tire technician, Petty Officer 2nd Class Carlos Mazza, 33rd MXS aviation structural mechanic, and Petty Officer 1st Class Fredrick Logan 33rd MXS aviation structural mechanic, assemble an F-35 wheel June 9, 2016, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The F-35 Wheel and Tire Shop at Eglin AFB is the only wheel and tire shop in the F-35 program that is integrated with both Air Force and Navy personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer/Released)

Staff Sgt. Mark Gower, 33rd Maintenance Squadron wheel and tire technician, looks through the opening of an F-35 wheel June 9, 2016, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The 33rd MXS Wheel and Tire Shop builds an average of 50 a month for F-35s stationed at Eglin AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer/Released)

Staff Sgt. Mark Gower, 33rd Maintenance Squadron wheel and tire technician, looks through the opening of an F-35 wheel June 9, 2016, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The 33rd MXS Wheel and Tire Shop builds an average of 50 a month for F-35s stationed at Eglin AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer/Released)

Staff Sgt. Mark Gower, 33rd Maintenance Squadron wheel and tire technician, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Carlos Mazza, 33rd MXS aviation structural mechanic roll used F-35 tires into the 33 rd MXS Wheel and Tire Shop June 9, 2016. The F-35 Wheel and Tire Shop at Eglin AFB is the only wheel and tire shop in the F-35 program that is integrated with both Air Force and Navy personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer/Released)

Staff Sgt. Mark Gower, 33rd Maintenance Squadron wheel and tire technician, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Carlos Mazza, 33rd MXS aviation structural mechanic roll used F-35 tires into the 33 rd MXS Wheel and Tire Shop June 9, 2016. The F-35 Wheel and Tire Shop at Eglin AFB is the only wheel and tire shop in the F-35 program that is integrated with both Air Force and Navy personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer/Released)

Staff Sgt. Mark Gower, 33rd Maintenance Squadron wheel and tire technician, washes F-35 wheel parts in a parts washer June 9, 2016, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Members of the 33rd MXS Wheel and Tire Shop use the parts washer to clean break dust and old grease off of wheel assemblies to prepare them for a new tire and wheel bearing, ensuring proper tire function. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer/Released)

Staff Sgt. Mark Gower, 33rd Maintenance Squadron wheel and tire technician, washes F-35 wheel parts in a parts washer June 9, 2016, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Members of the 33rd MXS Wheel and Tire Shop use the parts washer to clean break dust and old grease off of wheel assemblies to prepare them for a new tire and wheel bearing, ensuring proper tire function. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer/Released)

Staff Sgt. Mark Gower, 33rd Maintenance Squadron wheel and tire technician, pressurizes an F-35 tire June 9, 2016, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Tires are pressurized in a reinforced enclosure to protect personnel in the event of an explosive depressurization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer/Released)

Staff Sgt. Mark Gower, 33rd Maintenance Squadron wheel and tire technician, pressurizes an F-35 tire June 9, 2016, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Tires are pressurized in a reinforced enclosure to protect personnel in the event of an explosive depressurization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer/Released)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

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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