The Airmen who keep us flying Published Sept. 13, 2015 By Staff Sgt. Greg Ferreira 162nd Wing Public Affairs TUCSON, Ariz. -- The aircraft that protect America's skies do not fly solely on hopes and dreams. Rather, it's the diligence and determination of the 162nd Wing's hard-working maintenance group who keep Arizona's F-16 Falcons in the air. Full-time aircraft maintenance technicians are in high demand, and Guard Airmen have an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities during the week. There are currently 59 technician vacancies within the maintenance group, said Lt. Col. Sandra Wilson, 162nd Maintenance Group Deputy Commander. While Air Force-related endeavors have seemingly focused on special operations units, unmanned aerial vehicles and cybersecurity issues, the many occupations of jet-fighter maintainers will continue to serve a vital role in America's defensive posture. "There is a future in the Maintenance Group of the 162nd Wing," said Wilson. Airmen are recognizing this chance to perform skills learned from tech school as full time technicians. After having a successful retail career for a decade, Airman 1st Class Erik Garcia grew frustrated with lack of advancement potential. Seeing the doors open for family members here made him realize that a full-time career in maintenance is, in the words of a crew chief, "a golden opportunity," he said. "Coming out here, taking apart a jet, and then putting it back together the right way, seeing it take off and land gives me a lot of pride," said Garcia, adding that before he joined the wing, his mechanical experience extended to just changing oil in cars. Garcia is currently on temporary technician status, working on qualifications that will qualify him a full- time position. Although possessing technological skill-sets that keep jets airborne, the many maintenance disciplines within the group offer a higher calling for many Guard Airmen. "If you can muster in your heart to care for Airmen, the sky is the limit with leadership potential," said Col. Jeffrey Butler, 162nd Maintenance Group Commander. "There is nothing more satisfying than leading." A desire to work on the aircraft is a must for someone looking to join the maintenance group, and according to Senior Master Sgt. Dave Davis, inspection element supervisor, this quality is just as important as technical expertise. "Though you have to be mechanically minded, you have to want to work on aircraft. It requires launching, recovering, reinstalling, inspecting and servicing indifferent types of weather elements," he added. The maintenance group is a crucial element in keeping fellow Airmen safe. Safety and risk management knowledge is a staple to the maintenance career field. "Another person's life depends on the maintenance that you perform," said Davis. If you are interested in finding out more information on what it takes to be a 162nd Wing Maintenance Group technician, call 520-295-6698.