FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom — Support personnel for the 2010 Farnborough International Air Show arrived July 11 to set up for the week-long event that brings over 1300 exhibitors and 165 air frames from around the world into one arena to enjoy this global iconic event.
As thousands of people look to the skies at the aerial demonstrations and tour the various static displays, not many of them give thought to the key players who work behind-the-scenes to make this event possible.
According to Air Force Master Sgt. Brian Pfender, maintenance operations supervisor for the U.S. military assets at Farnborough, the planning involved to bring this show together is complex.
"There were a lot more hands involved in this than the 70 people here," said the sergeant whose home station is the 48th Maintenance Operations Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, UK. "Getting everything in and out of here takes a lot of work. The equipment arrived in eight trucks and two C-17 Globemasters this weekend, which meant a lot of people sacrificed their weekend off to make this event happen."
Pfender's position requires a certain amount of technical expertise when dealing with the variety of airframes, each with its distinct requirements. Other qualities beyond technical expertise are essential.
"Each branch of service has their own lingo," said Pfender. "You better be able to talk. A cart to the Navy may be called one thing and the Air Force may use a different name for the same thing. Maintenance procedures are handled differently too."
Coordination to meet the needs of each crew and ensure availability of equipment needed for each aircraft is a detailed process. The maintenance team acts as a liaison, serving as a single point of contact for acquiring services from contractors to meet military needs.
According to Pfender, it is a challenge but a rewarding experience that every enlisted member needs to experience.
"The support from Farnborough is great," said Pfender. "The whole team really came together. Everyone had a responsibility and did their part."
"It is incredible the people that come together and make this happen," said Pfender. "Some aren't even here. A special thanks to everyone who put this show together."
At the end of the day, the crowd diminishes, the parking lots empty and the lines at the bus que fade, but there are still many personnel working around the clock who make the 2010 Farnborough International Air Show a success.