THIS PAGE IS DEDICATED TO THE INDIVIDUALS OF THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE WHO FLY OR HAVE FLOWN ON AND MAINTAINED AIR FORCE HELICOPTERS BOTH IN PEACE TIME AND DURING ARMED CONFLICT
“HELICOPTER FLIGHT MECHANICS AND FLIGHT ENGINEERS”
The glamorous life of the helicopter Flight Engineer or Flight Mechanic is not always so glamorous.
The Flight Mechanic performs all the same tasks as a maintenance person and when the aircraft launches he becomes an integral part of the flight crew and assumes the tasks of the Flight Engineer. These are the guys that have to repair any problems or damage the aircraft returns with and have it ready to fly the next day, as well as be ready to fly himself often times missing meals and with little or no rest.
The role of the Flight Mechanic is truly a double duty role, both maintenance and in-flight duties. He has no one to blame when he brings an aircraft home broken or damaged.
There are those that believe that the Flight Engineer is an unnecessary evil. He is the person that returns with the broken or damaged aircraft and departs leaving the maintenance guys with the arduous task of getting the bird ready for the next flight.
To the folks that are unknowledgeable about the in-flight duties of the Flight Engineer they may not realize that while in the air he is the third set of eyes for the pilots. He is also responsible for monitoring cockpit readings and is ready to alert the pilot of out of range conditions on the engines, rotor system, etc.
On those aircraft having in-flight refueling capabilities the Flight Engineer has numerous procedures that he must be knowledgeable about in order to assist the pilots as necessary during the refueling operation. Depending on the flight crew the Flight Engineer would operate the refueling panel and extend the probe, control the amount of fuel going to each tank, and then retract the probe.
In combat situations the Flight Engineer becomes an extremely vital member of the crew while performing his duties as a gunner, hoist operator, and giving the pilot vital information while in a hover during a rescue operation. While all this is going on he needs to be cognizant of where the aircraft is in relation to the survivor, trees or other objects that could cause severe damage to the aircraft if not avoided. Additionally the Flight Engineer is constantly observant for enemy ground fire.
Both the Flight Mechanic and the Flight Engineer are always prepared for the unexpected and able to react in a timely fashion.