SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
Anyone who visits the engine shop here may sense a positive atmosphere and strong work ethic.
U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 52nd Maintenance Squadron Propulsion Flight have noteworthy high morale, which is a direct result of a family-oriented environment and strong leadership, enabling them to win awards.
The flight is U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s sole centralized repair facility for jet engines, in charge of inspection, teardown, buildup, and testing for the 52nd Fighter Wing, 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, and the U.S. Air Forces Central Command theater of operations.
“The team culture and overall morale within the Propulsion Flight is the best I’ve seen throughout my career,” said Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Hicks, 52nd MXS Propulsion Flight chief. “Our Airmen take great pride in producing world-class F-16 engines to support the Air Force mission at home-station and downrange.”
The flight’s high morale reflects their recent successes.
On Feb. 6, 2020, the flight received the Air Force Chief of Safety: Aviation Maintenance Safety Award for supporting aircraft sortie generation with an excellent record of quality assurance.
In July, 2019, the CRF broke the 33-year Combat Air Forces production record by pushing their quota of war-ready engines to 350 percent. Throughout 2019, 52nd FW F-16 Fighting Falcon engines had the highest “average time on wing,” the time an engine remains on an aircraft before removal, at more than 1,000 flying hours. ATOW is an indicator for measuring engine quality.
They also won the Gen. George C. Kenney Award in 2018 at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa level for demonstrating outstanding innovative performance.
These awards only scrape the surface of the flight’s successes and the recent wins are not a coincidence.
“I believe at the very foundation of our high-performing team is our family-oriented environment and high standards, and we make teamwork and communication a top priority,” said Chief Master Sgt. Willie Houser, 52nd MXS wing propulsion systems manager. “Hicks and I take full responsibility for our flight’s environment and the Airmen we lead. We personally reiterate the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect at every flight roll call.”
Houser and Hick’s strong relationship only makes the flight better.
“Hicks and I are a dream team because we are in lock-step regarding putting our Airmen first,” Houser said. “We know the mission doesn’t happen without our Airmen, so we advocate for them relentlessly. We also treat them like family and go to great lengths to be available and approachable to all ranks.”
The flight’s strength comes from their ability to work together through difficult situations.
“When faced with adversity, it’s important for our Airmen to see the job through, even when presented with significant challenges,” Hicks said. “When our Airmen ‘hit a wall’ on the job, we teach them how to find a way around, through, or over it. We don’t stop because something is difficult; we work as a team to figure it out and fix it permanently.”
Hicks and Houser utilize a “total team concept” method to keep the flight’s performance strong.
“In order to sustain a high level of performance and foster a total team concept, we use a tripod approach to leadership that is based on teamwork, motivation, and communication,” Hicks said.
For the teamwork pillar, Hicks said flight leadership builds teams that align the right mix of experience levels. For the motivation portion, Airmen have the ability to move to different sections, preventing stagnation. They also actively plan morale events.
“In 2019, our Propulsion Airmen Council organized canoe trips, monthly breakfasts, Thanksgiving and Christmas events, barbecues, hail and farewell events, and an annual off-site summer picnic,” Houser said.
It’s not all fun and games. Houser said some Airmen frequently volunteer to work extended hours.
Lastly, for the communication pillar, Hicks said flight leadership makes sure Airmen know their role in the mission and its importance.
“Our Airmen also know the engines we produce not only support local sorties, but F-16s flying combat and theater-support missions across multiple areas of responsibilities,” Houser said. “Having a substantial impact across multiple AORs make Propulsion Flight Airmen more competitive for awards.”
Houser said overall, Propulsion Flight Airmen enjoy what they do and take pride in their work and accomplishments.