Most outsiders may not know about an Air Force tradition that gives the hard-charging crew chiefs of some of the most high-tech airplanes in the world a chance to show a little personality.
You might have seen some funny videos or gifs here and there featuring Air Force maintainers directing taxiing aircraft with the flair of a funny dance or outrageous outfit, and you might have wondered how they got away with it without their commander coming down on them like a ton of bricks.YouTube user Kyle Gott
What you’re seeing is “Freestyle Friday,” a military version of “casual Fridays” where Air Force crew chiefs – the tactical aircraft maintainers who coordinate the maintenance and care of the world’s most expensive airframes — are allowed to have a little fun on the job.YouTube User alexwannbergYouTube User alexwannbergYouTube User alexwannberg
Crew chiefs have one of the hardest jobs in the Air Force; one that requires a lot of training, long hours, and a lot of responsibility to make sure the planes are in tip-top shape for their dangerous missions. There’s a reason the crew chief often gets his name on the nose of a plane with the pilot’s.YouTube User AirmanSnuffie
Some consider Air Force crew chiefs and maintainers the “grunts” of the Air Force, and no one should be surprised when they have a little fun on the flightline during Freestyle Fridays to blow off a little steam.YouTube user Jeff Wilms
The ground crews work in extreme heat and cold, depending on their duty station, with little rest between shifts, and sometimes multiple launches and recoveries per day.YouTube User juukbox
Crew chiefs have to deal with exhaustion from a high operational tempo, hearing loss from the jet noise on the flightline, and may sometimes feel a little underappreciated by the rest of the maintenance group.YouTube User Chris Bosley
Like most enlisted folks with this level of responsibility, they’re known for blunt talk and a no-nonsense attitude. They take care of the planes they’re charged to maintain very seriously. So it’s no surprise they’re known to be hardasses for doing things their way.YouTube User jw040789
But while crew chiefs work hard, they play hard too and are often the genesis of some hilarious nicknames for the airmen that work with them.
Happy Freestyle Friday from We Are The Mighty!