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One team, one fight: part I

U.S. Senior Airmen Joseph Kiser, 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron flight operation medical technician, examines a pilot’s eye pressure at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., July 23, 2018.

U.S. Senior Airmen Joseph Kiser, 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron flight operation medical technician, examines a pilot’s eye pressure at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., July 23, 2018. High pressure in the eyes can lead to glaucoma or other eye conditions that could cause blindness. Pilots must get physical health assessments every 15 months in order to stay fit to fight. (U. S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class BrieAnna Stillman)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Bell, 20th Civil Maintenance Squadron avionics system technician, works on an avionics power panel at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., July 23, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Bell, 20th Component Maintenance Squadron avionics system technician, works on an avionics power panel at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., July 23, 2018. The power panel is used to supply power to the navigation system in an F-16CM Fighting Falcon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class BrieAnna Stillman)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- When thinking about the F-16CM Fighting Falcon and its mission, many people only think about the pilot and their jet, but there are many more working pieces to the puzzle ensuring the mission is accomplished.

In order to step into an aircraft and be cleared fit to fight, pilots must get a physical health assessment in order to be cleared fit to fight. This means they have to go to the 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron flight medicine every 15 months for PHAs, which test eyesight, hearing, mental state and other health areas.

Having any health issues and not getting the proper medical care could potentially jeopardize the mission, aircraft or pilot’s life. This could then lead to mission failure which means enemy defenses could get an advantage on Team Shaw’s flyers.

“We do everything we can to help the pilots pass their PHA,” said Senior Airmen Joseph Kiser, 20th AMDS flight operation medical technician. “If they can’t pass, that drastically affects the mission and we want our pilots to be able to fly.”

Not only do pilots have to ensure they are healthy, but their aircraft must also be in tip-top shape. F-16s are examined to ensure all of its parts are in working order and able to fly.

Behind closed doors, in a building with no windows, crucial parts of the F-16 are examined and thoroughly checked by 20th Component Maintenance Squadron avionics Airmen, to make certain there is nothing wrong with things such as the navigation system, firing tools and steering.

“Very few people can say they have been in or around an F-16 the way I have and very few people can work on what we work on,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Bell, 20th CMS avionics system technician. “This makes our job very unique and enjoyable: the fact is that not one person, not one shop and not one team works on an F-16.”

Flight medicine and avionics are only two of the many other Air Force specialty codes making a difference in the background, that impact the pilots and jets before the mission is carried out.