HILL AIR FORCE BASE,Utah --
The 809th Maintenance Support Squadron’s Metrology and Calibration Flight at Hill Air Force Base is a small group of highly-specialized technicians who perform a critically important support mission on thousands of tools and machines used by units across the installation.
The MCF along with the Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory Flight make up the 809th and are part of the Air Force Metrology and Calibration Program, or AFMETCAL.
AFMETCAL is the service’s organization responsible for ensuring all tools, machines, and equipment used in a variety of career fields throughout the Air Force are calibrated and accurate.
“The 809th MSS supports about 12,500 items of total inventory across Hill AFB, with regular calibration happening on about 5,000 of those,” said Aaron Weslow, MCF chief.
In industrial processes there are many things that require precision and the flight’s technicians work with all kinds of measurements including dimensional, weight, torque, temperature, humidity, microwave, radar, and high frequency just to name a few.
Small tools and equipment are brought into the PMEL laboratory, a controlled environment cooled to 68 degrees, which allows them to precisely calibrate measurement equipment.
However, if it’s a piece of equipment or machine too large to be brought into the PMEL laboratory, such as those used in the aircraft maintenance depot, the calibration occurs on location.
For example, calibrating an industrial-sized oven used to bake on coatings or hardening certain materials on aircraft landing gear is critical to ensure temperature uniformity during the baking process.
“You don’t want the top of the structure to get more (or less) temperature than the bottom when your hardening things,” Weslow said. “Our technicians will map dozens and dozens of points inside the oven to see how the temperature stabilizes and work to eliminate hot or cool spots.”
The MCF’s 30 government civilian technicians support about 450 jobs a month. During each job, technicians may calibrate upward of 20 tools during one sitting or work a single machine that can take up to five days to complete.
Another part of the MCF’s primary mission is supporting customers with new tools and establishing equipment requirements for the future.
“As we spin up a new workload with F-35, F-22 or some newly arrived armament, our technical applications team is consulted to make sure we have the commercial data required,” Weslow said.
“Understandably, the tools used to manufacture and maintain our military systems require a great deal of accuracy,” he said. “We take our job very seriously and take pride in keeping our customers and Hill Air Force Base calibrated.”