I'll never "soar where neither lark nor eagle dare," but my spirit is with you on each of your flights. When I go home in the morning and go to bed, when most people are getting up, I sleep well. Screaming children, chatting people, doorbells, and street sweepers do not disturb me in my well-earned rest. However, the distant roar of your engines will wake me from my deepest sleep. A sure and certain smile comes across my face as I hear and feel your engines push your aircraft skyward. I know that I’ve done my part, and now it's time for you to do yours. As the sounds of your engine are replaced by the sounds of garbage trucks and school buses, I drift back to sleep; and I dream of the things that you must be doing, not in an envious way, but almost as a flying mechanic. When you raise the gear handle, you feel a slight change in control pressures; but, in my mind's eye and ear, I see squat switches close and uplocks move; I hear the pumps wind to a halt as the limit switches are engaged. A checklist is run in my sleep, and I monitor each gear, cam, seal, and limiter that is tucked away under those panels now securely fastened down. I’ve read that you imagine you become a part of your aircraft; that man and machine become one; that your airplane practically reads your mind and seems to react almost before your gloved hand moves the controls. You imagine that steel, aluminum, titanium, and plastic become muscle, bone, nerve, and sinew. If you can feel the pulse of your aircraft by placing your feet on the rudder pedals, then I'm the surgeon that replaces the cables, valves, motors, and bell cranks that are the imagined strength that moves your living rudder. I'm the specialist that has serviced, topped off, drained, filtered, purged, and pressurized the fluids that you imagine to be the life-blood of your friend.
I've tweaked and peaked, tightened, torqued, and tuned, milked and measured, routed and rerouted, fitted, fixed, filed, beat, bent, banged, and buckled each vital part of metal and plastic on our companion. Sir, I am not belittling you for the things you feel about your airplane, because I feel things about it too. Most of the time I feel less than happy about the location of a certain part, and I'll call it a "bucket of bolts" or holler at it when it comes home broken and it's my anniversary. I'll gripe and groan and tell it that it's just thousands of rivets flying in close formation. There are, however, those other feelings that can't be explained as you watch a sunset reflected on its polished aluminum skin. I’ve sat on a toolbox and watched the moon rise, twisted and distorted, through its canopy. There is also a satisfaction I get as I work on or service a part on the airplane you'll never see. Perhaps it's a rivet high on the tail, or a clamp somewhere under your seat or a rib or stringer; a screw or bracket, in places you didn't even know existed. It's hard for me to imagine that you think of this airplane as being yours when I think of the blood I’ve left in the engine bay and the skin off my knuckles up in the wheel well. I remember the rib I cracked when I hit the pitot tube the wet morning I fell off of your airplane. As an aircraft mechanic, I don't have to worry about being ejected or passed over or bird struck or mid-aired. If I get punched out, all I have to worry about is a loose tooth, and the last time I was grounded was when I was 12 years old. I am happy turning wrenches in our Air Force. I am grateful to be an American and proud to wear the U.S. Air Force blue. You see, sir, I know that in other parts of the world there are enlisted and officers who wear a different uniform than we do, and they work on aircraft that have markings different than ours. Their views on right and wrong and God and family are also different than ours. If my having to stand out in the snow once in a while helps to ensure that those men and their aircraft pose no threat to me or my way of life, I will do it gladly. So, sir, I promise: if you'll keep flying 'em, I’ll keep fixing 'em. Ssgt. Stephen Moriset 479 CRS Holloman AFB N.M. October 1981