Airman in Focus: Senior Airman Ian McAlister
By Staff Sgt. Matt Benedetti, Public Affairs Journalist, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published February 06, 2011
Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- Senior Airman Ian McAlister of the Maintenance Group (MXS) has made his mark since joining the unit in 2005, and personifies the selfless spirit of the next generation of unit members.
At 6 ft 5, the Tolland, MA native is hard to miss. McAlister was named the Airman of the Year of the 104th Maintenance Group and has been nominated for Airman of the Year for the 104 FW. Some of his duties include working on the avionics system as well as the electronic warfare and communication systems of the F-15. He has always wanted to be a member of the military and initially joined the 104th to work on the A-10. He subsequently trained to work on the F-15 and is happy to be a member of the unit.
"I've learned a lot so far from my training and working with my shop-mates, such as troubleshooting techniques, good mechanical skills, attention to detail and teamwork," he said. "I have had several excellent mentors who were good at applying these methods in their everyday work."
In flight line avionics, his role requires him to work directly on the jets by tackling unexpected repairs and scheduled maintenance. His job involves addressing pilot reported problems, swapping and repairing parts as well as doing operational checks.
"We work on most systems that have anything to do with the cockpit including radios, navigation equipment, instruments and radar," he added. "There is a lot of variety and critical thinking involved in troubleshooting, so while there are some tasks that can be tedious, there's always something different around the corner. I like that."
In August and September 2009, Senior Airman McAlister participated in Red Flag Exercise at Nellis AFB and enjoyed the high tempo and challenging environment.
"As a traditional guardsman, I got a lot of practice in tasks that usually are spread out over months of UTAs," McAlister said. "The days were often long but they flew by since we were busy the whole time. I loved Red Flag and can't wait to go on another mission."
McAlister's commitment to the mission has made an impression on his supervisors as well. "Senior Airman McAlister is one of the most inspiring airmen that I have had the pleasure of working beside. His commitment to the 104th Fighter Wing and the Air National Guard is truly in line with the Core Values of the United States Air Force: Integrity First, Service before Self and Excellence in all we do," said Senior Master Sgt. Tony Swana, 104FW/MXAAS.