Pilot safety top priority for flight line manager

by Donovan Jackson
Air University Public Affairs

7/31/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- As he sits in his office, his thoughts remain steady and consistent. The thunderous engines from the C-130s landing and taking off from the flight line can be heard through his office window. He is at ease for the moment as he slides his computer access card into his keyboard, signifying the start of his day. But then a moment of worry hits him, as he begins to wonder if the flight line is as safe today as it was yesterday.

Erique Young, the assistant airfield manager for airfield operations at the 42nd Operations Support Flight, takes extreme pride in making sure that the flight line is safe for pilots.

"This job, though small to some, is very important to me because I feel that what I do truly matters and makes a difference," Young said. "Every day, when I get to work, I am concerned with the safety of those entering and leaving this base via flight."

Young admits that when he first began his career in airfield operations, he was only in it for a paycheck.

"I won't lie, when I was younger this was the only job available for me at the time, and I needed to support myself," he said. "But, as time went on, I began to learn more and develop a deep level of passion for the job and my position. I now firmly believe that when it comes to my job it has to be taken seriously as safety is not something that can ever be compromised."

With more than 30 years working as an airfield manager or assistant manager at several stateside and overseas bases, Young said he believes that he is more than qualified when it comes to ensuring the safety of the flight line.

He readily acknowledges the fact that within his own career field, people have told him that he takes his job and responsibilities too serious.

"I've had some people say that I take my job too seriously, but when safety is concerned, wouldn't you want a guy with those types of priorities looking out for you," said Young. "Plus, I'm OK with other people saying that I take my job too seriously. In my opinion, it is a direct reflection of my work ethic, and I believe in hard work."

Young's daily duties include inspecting runways, taxiways, signs, lighting and airfield clearance areas for discrepancies that require attention or violate airfield criteria.

"If I do find a safety issue on the flight line, I report it to civil engineering. They then perform or contract the maintenance and repairs required to sustain a safe flight line," he said.

The 42 OSF is comprised of about 67 Airmen, civilians and contractors. Their core mission is support of aircraft flight operations via air traffic control, weather forecasting, Federal Aviation Administration flight planning and transient aircraft servicing.

In addition, they support the 908th Airlift Wing and Civil Air Patrol as tenant flying activities.

"Among the various activities that the 42nd OSF engages in, we also host 900 to 1,200 distinguished visitors each year in support of Air University," said Young. "These visitors range from chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the secretary of the Air Force and many others."

Maxwell is second only to Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility in Prince George's County, Md., in DV operations.

"Young has really reshaped the way that airfield operations is done at Maxwell," said Harrison Coats, airfield manager. "It's been a pleasure for me working with Young. He is a real asset to base operations and one of the hardest working guys that I've ever met."

Along with being the assistant airfield manager, Young is currently earning his master's degree in emergency management. After, he plans to pursue a doctoral degree in aviation business administration.