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Electrical systems flight powers Barksdale

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Benjamin Raughton
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
An Airman crosses the street to avoid a large puddle as he walks to work on a brisk Thursday morning. Spring thunderstorms are common in Louisiana, so the Airman paid no attention to the weather until he entered the workplace and flipped the light switch.


Perhaps the thunderstorm knocked out the power or the fuse had blown. He wouldn't be waiting in the dark long - the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron electrical systems flight was already hard at work restoring power to the building.

From a blown fuse to airfield lights, the 2nd CES electrical systems flight ensures the continuity of electrical power base-wide.

"We use RWP, a recurring work program, where we check everything to make sure it doesn't have any further discrepancies," said Senior Airman Christopher Santos, 2nd CES electrical systems journeyman. "Whether it's cleaning or tightening screws, we perform preventive maintenance so we don't have to wait until something breaks down. Our goal is to prevent breakdowns from happening."

The flight has duty hours from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., but standby calls and work during off-duty hours keep the electrical Airmen busy.

There are often around 12 Airmen in the flight, though it isn't uncommon for half of them to be deployed at any given time. Fortunately, the Airmen receive plenty of training at Barksdale to support their expeditionary Allies overseas.

"Everything we do here is training for what happens downrange," Santos said. "We learn everything from our electrical job to controllers and circuit boards. We also train on alarms like fire alarms, mass notification systems and others. High voltage, interior [electrical maintenance], conduit-bending and airfield lighting are all separate entities, but we work on all of this overseas as well when we deploy."

Despite the challenges of deployed locations to include imminent danger or even working with an unfamiliar team, the obstacles don't end when the Airmen return to Barksdale. Each day can present a challenge of its own.

"There was a cable buried in the ground in 1992 that hit a water sewage line and no one noticed until the ground started caving in," Santos said. "We had to dig out that conduit and relocate it. It wasn't an easy task, but we came through it as a team. Everything we do, we do it together."

When other squadrons on base have electrical power, they can focus on the mission. When they don't, the necessity of the electrical systems flight becomes evident.

"If I don't perform my job, other people on base wouldn't be able to do their jobs because there wouldn't be any power," said Senior Airman Ravon McCoy, 2nd CES electrical systems apprentice. "Some people don't take time to think about how big a deal it is to have electricity until you don't have it anymore."

Without the electrical systems flight, McCoy says, the base may have to contract electricians, which could be more costly to the Air Force, and without electricity, operations would go out with a flicker. However, thanks to the electrical systems flight Airmen and their ability to work in any environment or climate, they will work as a team to power Barksdale, rain or shine.