PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, ORE. --
Staff Sgt. William Butler is an electrical power production technician (power pro) for the 142nd Civil Engineer Squadron at Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon. Butler’s job is to test and maintain all backup generators on base as well as the aircraft arresting system for the F-15 Eagles.
His job overall is to ensure that in the event of an emergency, the mission will continue to be carried out unimpeded by a power outage or failure of equipment.
The maintenance of the aircraft arresting system is critical to the daily flying mission at PANG. The system is designed to safely decelerate an aircraft in the event that it can’t stop on its own. It consists of an above ground cable made to latch onto the aircraft and gradually slow it while below the surface of the runway, a hydraulic breaking system gradually applies pressure in order to bring the plane to a stop.
Power pro techs are responsible for checking and maintaining the underground breaking apparatus for the aircraft arresting system.
“Every day of the year we check the barriers,” says Butler. “We have to do a daily inspection on them just to make sure there’s no leaks or nothing major going on because on any day there could be an in-flight emergency.”
Power pro is a very electric and mechanic intensive career field. The combination of these skills is something Butler says is the best of both worlds. The mechanical aspect of the job is something that initially attracted him and inspired him to pursue the career field when he joined the Air Force.
The job itself is very repetitive in nature. Power pro technicians do everything on a set schedule in order to maintain continuous readiness of emergency equipment.
“It’s very redundant,” says Butler. “Trying to stay focused on the big picture [is important] because we literally do the same thing every day. You gotta remind yourself why you’re doing it.”
Power pro technicians are required to be self-motivated workers who are able to hold themselves accountable.
“You have to be a self-starter,” says Butler. “You’re not going to have your supervisor looking over you. Being self-sufficient and intrinsically motivated are good attributes to have.”
Electrical power production is a “behind-the-scenes” career field which impacts mission sustainability and safety on a daily basis. Because of this, technicians get to see the mission from a different perspective.
“[Power pro] is unique because a lot of people don’t know what we do,” says Butler. “Being out there on the airfield when things happen, we’re right there on the runway, closer than anyone else can get so that part’s cool.”
Electrical power production technician is one of many important roles one can fill in the Oregon Air National Guard. If you or someone you know is interested in joining the ORANG, please contact the recruiting office at 503-335-4040 or visit GoANG.com.