By Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden, 15th Wing Public Affairs
The 735th Air Mobility Squadron (AMS) is primarily known for operating the passenger terminal and enabling the space available travel option for active-duty members, retirees and their family members. Many Airmen in the squadron are also hard at work behind the scenes, providing passengers and crew members with a clean, comfortable and safe mode of transportation when they fly.
In addition to checking in passengers and loading baggage onto the aircraft, Airmen in the 735th AMS Fleet Services flight are responsible for cleaning and servicing the aircraft.
To accomplish this, the flight is divided into two sections—dirty fleet and clean fleet.
Dirty fleet Airmen are responsible for cleaning the bathrooms, removing the trash, and making sure there is potable water on-board—a job which could be messy and time consuming. As soon as the aircraft lands, a lavatory service truck is used to suck out the onboard waste and replace it with new fluid in preparation for the next flight—a job that may be dirty, but is highly necessary if passengers intend to use the bathroom.
“It’s a dirty job for sure,” said Staff Sgt. Preston Harris, 735th AMS passenger services representative. “The waste could dump out on you when it’s being removed. It can definitely get really nasty if you aren’t careful.”
While dirty fleet Airmen focus on cleaning the aircraft after it lands, clean fleet Airmen focus on replenishing and preparing for the next flight.
What clean fleet brings to the table primarily depends on what a particular aircraft needs. They are charged with stocking coolers of water, toiletries, pillows and blankets and, most importantly, food.
“What we do all ties in together,” said Harris. “Once passengers make it onto the aircraft, they want to be comfortable, and that’s what we provide. Nobody wants to travel on a dirty, smelly flight. Nobody wants to be freezing cold and not have a blanket to use or a pillow to lay their head on.”
Harris said the best part about it is being able to take care of the crew and passengers.
“Nobody really knows about us because we work behind the scenes, but what we do is really important,” he said. “If we didn’t do our job, it could become a health and safety concern.
“Everybody here takes pride in what we do,” Harris added.
For Senior Airman Amanda Wheeling, 735th AMS air transportation journeyman, being a part of fleet services is also about showing the passengers you care.
“I don’t mind that it’s a dirty job. It’s dirty, it’s hot, but I enjoy it,” she said. “Both dirty fleet and clean fleet are extraordinarily important because nobody would like not being able to go to the bathroom on a nine-hour flight, but they also wouldn’t like flying without ear plugs.”
Wheeling, a self-professed organizer, said she loves the physically demanding aspects of her job and being able to make things straight and organized but also likes being a part of the bigger picture.
“I love clean fleet because you get to see every aspect of our job from start to finish,” she said. “My favorite part is getting to go to every aircraft and being a part of the recovery process. It’s fun.”