by Airman 1st Class Ned T. Johnston
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
6/3/2014 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- When lives are on the line, there's no acceptable range for errors - not even two milli-inch's worth.
Airmen assigned to the precision measurement equipment laboratory know
this to be true, because it's their responsibility to calibrate
equipment down to the minutest of measurements to ensure the Air Force's
mission goes on without fault.
Dave McGranahan, 6th Maintenance Squadron PMEL technician, is no novice
when it comes to finding his way around the MacDill PMEL. McGranahan, a
Riverview, Florida, native, was assigned to the MacDill PMEL in the
1980s when he was an active-duty Airman. Now a civilian stationed at
MacDill, McGranahan has more than 30 years experience between his time
on active duty and as a civilian.
On May 27, 2014, the MacDill PMEL received a piece of equipment from
Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, for a maintenance inspection that
caught McGranahan by surprise.
"Being in the career field so long, it really takes a lot to catch me
off guard, but this is a Vector Radar Boresight Fixture Q2 for an F-16,"
exclaimed McGranahan. "I used to inspect these parts all the time when I
was stationed at a fighter base back when I was on active duty. It's
been some time since I've seen one of these."
McGranahan took to a surface plate and proceeded to run the fixture
through its inspection. Using an electronic height gage, McGranahan
inspected the fixture on the parallelism of its mounting pins and
"Unfortunately, this part failed," said McGranahan. "It didn't fail by
much, but all it takes is being a few milli-inches off to disqualify a
part. I'll send it off to be fixed, and they'll send it back for another
inspection when it's ready."
For today, McGranahan saved the Air Force a potentially mission-jeopardizing situation and took a glimpse back in time.