I am a female in the community of what the Air Force world likes to commonly refer as a "Weapons Troop". My expertise is in loading weapons from bombs, missiles, and rounds in the aircraft gun to maintaining the armament systems on the jet. My professional experience is limited to the F-16. I have been to several units and locations, including Afghanistan. Feel free to ask me anything, including non-aircraft maintenance related.

Proof - http://imgur.com/YvgZl7x

EDIT - I decided to add that I was a female to my AMA based on the fact that being female would pose different situations and scenarios for myself, as opposed to my male counter parts. I was actually hoping to maybe address some fallacies of mechanics who are female to the general public and possibly any recruits that are interested in the joining the air force and wondering about the weapons career field or aircraft maintenance in general.

Comments: 512 • Responses: 59  • Date: 

sep070510 karma

I tried to enter as gunner light gun and the army told me I was best not to... Can you give me any advice on suitable jobs that actually do evolve some combat such as the one you are doing? 23/f/uk

laughing_daises9 karma

I don't consider my job combat related field. I wouldn't take that title for those who truly put their life in genuine danger from our enemy. However, if you are looking to get closest to combat as possible I'd recommend Explosive Ordinance Disposal.

sarfreer9 karma

How specific/specialized is your training?

I'm an Air Weapons Tech in the RCAF, and the ongoing joke is that techs in the USAF have titles like "F-16/A Left MLG actuator technician".

Bonus: How many techs are there around a plane for a park/start?

laughing_daises9 karma

Actually, my unit gets to work with the Royal Australian AF a lot and they usually have a joke that implies the same thing. Which I think is funny, but I'm sure it would be much more fulfilling not to have such specified jobs. I say that mainly because it seems like each maintenance career field seems to constantly be trying to one up each other.

aciddrop77778 karma

At home, I suspect that I am tasked with fixing anything and everything because I'm the man of the house, and for no other reason. When the washer or dryer start making noise, does your husband ask you to take a look at it? I mean, you do work on sophisticated aircraft...they're practically the same thing! Thank you very much for your service!!

laughing_daises19 karma

You sound like a sensible man. My husband, who is also a service member happens to be quite handy with his hands. He fixes and does most of the "handy man" type things around the house, mostly because I rather play the womanly house wife role at home and allow that be our relationship dynamic. However, I do have better more professional knowledge on tools and certain electrical components than he does, so sometmes while watching him over his shoulder struggle with something I tend to just bite my tongue. There are rare occasions he gives in and lets me try. :)

JasonEnder8 karma

so is it a sausage fest?

laughing_daises10 karma

It is an outstanding difference in ratios between male and females, however there a quite a few more females than an average person would presume.

pakap8 karma

How do the pilots usually treat ground crew?

laughing_daises29 karma

My only experience is with F-16s, which pilots are usually have a superiority complex. So some are cordial, some are rude, and some barely think the maintainers exist. I've heard from others that heavy cargo aircraft pilots are usually pretty cool to work with. But it's seems F-16 pilots are apparently to top of line for douchiest. Actually, since it's hard to tell in civilian clothes that I am in the Air Force, let alone an aircraft maintainer I like to play a game of "Stroking the Pilots Ego". Which usually involves getting the self identified pilot to talk about themselves and the miraculous human beings that I'm blessed to be in the presence of. It usually leads to hand gestures mimicking their flight maneuvers.

pakap8 karma

Pretty much what I imagined jet pilots to be, haha.

Any funny pilot-related anecdotes?

laughing_daises21 karma

The one coming to mind would be..While at a nearby restaurant/bar I was waiting on my pizza order when some visiting pilot (from another base) was a few drinks into his night when he started chatting it up. Then of course after playing up his ego and asking him some simple questions all gobbed eyed like, which led to the inevitable hand gestures of his recent awesome sortie and all the super cool maneuvers he did. He was so busy in story telling he kept buying drinks for my husband and I. Long story short this light weight couldn't handle he tequila and ended up puking and passing out in the bathroom. This all happened during our 20 minute wait for our pizza.

paindu3 karma

...what did you do for the other 10 minutes? ; )

laughing_daises10 karma

chuckled and ate his pizza ;)

v1perdr1ve4 karma

My dad flew the F-16, and is nothing like this. I grew up around pilots and its more of a generalization kind of thing. I've met awesome viper drivers, and douchey ones. I've met douchy tanker pilots too.

Youre bound to have some sort of ego when you fly a fighter. I guess its just who you meet and what the situation was.

Cool AMA though, thanks.

laughing_daises8 karma

You're definitely right. What they do is incomparable, but I did mention there are cool ones just for my self defense!

benchif41 karma

LUKE?

laughing_daises1 karma

Negative

Motrin_n_Water8 karma

Hmm.. what is your favorite golf course?

laughing_daises5 karma

That'd be one in Ludington, Michigan where I spent my childhood summers. My grandpa was an avid golfer, he worked and played there.

NutcaseLunaticManiac2 karma

Was his name Carl?

laughing_daises3 karma

My grandfather? No, that wasn't his name.

NutcaseLunaticManiac3 karma

Dangit, I was hoping you were Carl Spackler's grand daughter.

laughing_daises3 karma

Well, that would've been cool. But I'm not... sorry :/

Efanito7 karma

F-22 weapons troop checking in. I'm surprised to see an AMA about our career field.

laughing_daises4 karma

I am surprised that this AMA has blown up like it has

ATomatoAmI1 karma

Is... is that an EOD pun?!

On an unrelated note, I've considered joining the AF for something like Intel or research. Since I've never served in any branch, I'm curious what your experience was like transferring from civilian life to the Air Force.

What did you like, what did you hate, what surprised you, what freedoms/time/responsibilities did you gain or lose, and would you recommend it?

laughing_daises2 karma

Upon entering the AF it became an instant revelation that I would now be only as good as the weakest leak in my unit. Simple example would be basic training... the whole flight will be downgraded just for one trainee's error. This principal is carried out from there on out. Because of this, it is made slightly hard to be quite as motivated for my own prosperity, but for the units prosperity. Of course, this example was quite a long of time ago, but the principal remains in all aspects of the AF.

With that being said, you start to realize the free bird mentality that you had as a civilian is no longer your mind set anymore, because no matter how well you exceed or how low you fail you'll always be tied to the AF. One example being that with all these negatives comments I've been asked, people are holding me personally accountable for actions that the military took even before I was enlisted.

It all sounds pessimistic, but I don't mean it to. Because in general things are positive and I've never gone without want and neither has my family, but I constantly have to work within the boundaries that I am set.

Thank you for asking an interesting question.

anon1087 karma

Have you experienced any forms of abuse(physical, verbal) by senior officers?

laughing_daises20 karma

I have never been abused by senior officers. I have however been in my opinion treated unfairly by peers or immediate supervisors, but nothing that I would classify as abuse.

anon1084 karma

How do you react when treated unfairly?

laughing_daises11 karma

Its been a lot of trial and error in creating my way to deal with it, but as far as reacting I generally try to bite my tongue. However, I'm also not one to be a wet blanket, so depending on the severity I will immediately call out that individual and hopefully solve it with that person who I feel treated me unfairly. I do however, want to make clear that if I feel professionally treated unfairly I will go mentally go through all scenarios as to why I could be treated and/or discriminated upon and then if I still question it and I'll investigate it further.

pete17296 karma

Have you ever dropped something really expensive?

laughing_daises10 karma

Yes, definitely. I am not sure which was the most expensive though because generally the price tags are taken off before we're given them.

entirely126 karma

Regularly $25,000, today only on sale $24,999!

laughing_daises8 karma

Something like that ;)

pileoflaundry5 karma

Hello fellow load toad. I was a weapons loader in the AF as well. I worked on the F-15. Just saying hello!

laughing_daises8 karma

Thanks for the love. It's becoming a cold hearted thread.

DreamsAndSchemes2 karma

Please don't screw up any of the electrical systems.

Signed Sparky

I never worked F-16s, so I'm legit clueless if E&E and Munitions tie in at all. I worked KC-135s, C-17s and C-5s.

laughing_daises2 karma

I will give my best effort not to, Sparky. :)

Despondent_in_WI4 karma

You mentioned you've only worked with the F-16s; do you have to complete different training or complete some sort of qualifications for each type of craft you provide support for? Or is it just that there's only been need for F-16s?

laughing_daises8 karma

For weapons, no. We can be assigned to any aircraft, due to our on going training in CDC's (went more in depth on them in another reply), but once you are assigned a new unit you will need to be re-certified.

StaticDet54 karma

What's your favorite weapon system, from a tech point of view, and why?

laughing_daises7 karma

My favorite weapons system would have be a tie between the AC-130 Gunship or the A-10. The A-10 because the amount of munitions it can carry is amazing and also the gun system is spectacular. The AC-130 because there is nothing like it carrying 3 types or gun systems as well as cargo with intel operations.

Pfheonix17 karma

Well, to be fair, the A-10 is a gun. It just happens to fly.

laughing_daises6 karma

Touché

PseudoEngel3 karma

My wife is an Airman. I would like to ask a question that would help me in case I choose to enlist myself. How difficult was your tech school and how long was it? If I joined, I would really love to have a challenging position and interesting position. I've been in and around the base here and some of these office jobs seem awfully boring.

laughing_daises5 karma

I personally didn't find my tech school very academically challenging and it lasted for about 4 months. And I agree that majority of the office jobs seem awfully boring.

PseudoEngel2 karma

Follow up question: What is your work week like? Do you work 5 days a week and get the weekends off? Do you work for a long period of time and then get a good amount of time off?

And one more: Would you say your position has a high chance of deployment?

laughing_daises3 karma

Currently my work week is Sunday night - Thursday night (11PM - 7AM) to be exact. So, I mostly get weekends off, but unfortunately this weekend I do not. Right now, as I work a special duty my position is quite at high of chance, but its not a complete zero chance of deployment.

PseudoEngel1 karma

Thanks for responding! I just shared this with my wife. If you don't mind us asking, where are you at? In the states or are you overseas?

laughing_daises2 karma

Currently both... Eielson AK

PseudoEngel1 karma

Sheesh. How's life like on and around the base?

laughing_daises2 karma

Cold...

Sweg_Mester3 karma

How did you get your start doing what you do, and why did you choose the Air Force?

laughing_daises7 karma

The Air Force chose this field for me.

Afrodeejiac3 karma

Have you ever heard the James Brown song "Its a mans mans mans world"

laughing_daises24 karma

Yes, I have :)

osprey483 karma

I want to thank you for everything you do for our country. How do you respond to others that thank you for your service and your face to face with them?

laughing_daises9 karma

I actually hoped someone would ask this, just so I could quote my friend/co-worker who put this so perfectly.

"It's always a struggle to stammer a response when someone stops me in uniform to thank me for my service. The first time it happened was when I was on my way back home from tech school. I had no romantic ideas of the struggles I'd overcome then, and I still have the same doubtful mind. Every time someone approaches me in uniform and extends a hand, or a kind woman turns her head and I can sense what is about to happen, I clear my mind of thinking that what they're about to say is directed exactly at me. I know that there are many out there that have given much more than I will have the honor to give in my military career. I focus on accepting the thanks of someone who appreciates the whole and not just the individual. I accept it for the spouses that spend long months in constant states of stress and heartache. I accept it for the kids that miss months and years with their parents. Parents that miss holidays and contact with their sons and daughters. I accept it for those who paved the way, whether they gave all or just some. I pass on all that I've accepted in those encounters and would like to thank those that came before me in service, my family, friends, and all those I haven't had the pleasure of working beside yet. Thank you for the sacrifices, great or small."

[deleted]3 karma

[deleted]

laughing_daises6 karma

Thank you. The most enjoyable place I've been sent for my job was Italy.

nikidash6 karma

It's kinda weird how foreigners like italy but we italians mostly want to get the hell out of here

laughing_daises7 karma

I guess that's a fair viewpoint. One of more funny things that continually happened to me while meeting Italians was that they all for whatever reasons knew American geography fairly well. Enough so, that when I told them I was from Arizona they would then almost immediately ask me if I was a cowgirl and how many horses I had.

nikidash5 karma

Probably because in italy most people watch american shows/movies, so knowledge of the u.s. kinda comes kinda naturally. The fact that the average italian still sees u.s. as the magic land of opportunity (don't know if it's still true) and dreams of going there also helps.

Also italians, especially in the centre-south, love stereotypes. You have no idea how many people do the heil hitler when i tell them i know german (fun fact: i'm not even german, i have italian and swiss citizenship), and Arizona gets stereotyped to cowboys. Tell them you're from texas and they'll ask you something like "how many oil bores do you have?"

laughing_daises3 karma

Noted

dr_van_nostren2 karma

If you could blow up 1 thing...what would it be!?

laughing_daises3 karma

I want to go metaphorical here and say something like hatred, just because of all the metaphorical questions I've been asked thus far.

-BitchPlease-2 karma

Was joining the forces the best decision you've ever made

laughing_daises5 karma

As far as life decisions? Because I make a lot of decisions, one being I decided to answer this question while eating a cupcake...lol

Yes, at that time I enlisted it was the best life decision I could make for myself at that time.

BUBBA_BOY2 karma

How many years of training are needed for different things you do?

Is there something different about your job when you deploy?

How have different locations been like with you being female?

laughing_daises2 karma

All jobs in the AF will go through tech schools, which teach them the basics of their job to allow them to be at least functional before arriving at their first duty station. My tech school was roughly 4 months long. Once reaching your first assignment you'll then do career development courses, which are simply put; packets of information more in-delved into your job. Testing on that information is crucial to move up the ranks.

The main difference generally in my job as far as deployments go is loading inert (practice) to live munitions.

Usually no matter the location the experience is the same.

pileoflaundry2 karma

Did you go to Sheppard too for your training?

laughing_daises5 karma

I sure did

TheCrakkFox2 karma

I've heard a lot of people in other branches of service gripe about how much easier the Air Force usually has it on base during a deployment. Obviously, front line infantry will have a completely different view of it than say an aircraft mechanic, but would you say there are things people don't realize are tough on the Air Force guys and girls that aren't totally apparent?

laughing_daises3 karma

I do have a better insight to the Army as opposed to some of my AF counter parts, so I genuinely can appreciate the vast suckiness that other branches have, particularly the Army. But one "tough" thing that is hard for other branch members to see is that the AF gives more responsibility at a lower level then in comparison to the responsibilities that are given other branches at the same level especially in the case of technology and knowledge.

bwrdl1 karma

Ok, so I made a username just for this... I.Y.A.A.Y.A.S!!!!!!! jk, just separated in December. Stay cool/warm on the line.. i was a line driver. Take care. PS.. good luck on the next staff test, SrA still?

laughing_daises3 karma

Ohhh you ammo troops. Hope you're enjoying the civilian side. Yep, still a SrA!

Wintersocks1 karma

Hmm a missile badge huh? Have you ever thought about switching airframes to the B52? Don't do it. I worked on the wsa side of that whole operation and I had a roommate who was a loader. We hated our lives. If you ever do switch, try not to be so damn messy with the grease when you load pylons, people actually do have to clean that up hahaha.

laughing_daises1 karma

Haha I have always been noted for keeping my AME spectacularly clean and impressive.. the rest of my body on the other hand, it gets the short end of the stick. I don't plan on working the B-52. My brother-in-law is a nav guy on then and I hear about it from time to time. Plus, I tend to stay with from PRP as much as possible!

95regenrator1 karma

wait, so does that stand for I company?

laughing_daises1 karma

I have no idea what you are asking here.

95regenrator1 karma

Oh, I'm in a military college doing a ROTC program, here our battalion is divided into companies, companies are separated to I, A, B,C, T, was just wondering if that's the same system you gals and guys have, because in your proof that black thing looked like an I

laughing_daises1 karma

Oh, okay. No, that is my missile badge that is awarded after working with AIM-120 missile for longer than a year.

CharlieXLS1 karma

Do you ever hear about the SACs Giant Sword competitions? My father used to be a squad leader on a leading team for Buffs

laughing_daises1 karma

I have not, would be interesting to see though.

rabranc1 karma

Can ammo and loaders just get along?

laughing_daises1 karma

Perhaps, it's been done. But as a whole, probably never.

amp0la1 karma

Did you get chosen for some Force Shaping boards ;)

laughing_daises2 karma

Funny you ask. At first when the programs were announced I was notified that I would be on them. Now, however I am not eligible anymore. Boo whoo...

amp0la1 karma

I want to volunteer

laughing_daises1 karma

I volunteered for VSP, I was told by AFPC that I would probably be disapproved.

temperatefight1 karma

Former load toad here. I've known plenty of women in the armament career and they were always badasses and just had a thick skin. How has it been for you dealing with the "boys" club?

laughing_daises1 karma

Honestly, at first it was more difficult for me, but after a couple of months that thick skin grew in and I was able to give it right back. The only frustration I still have it is when I feel like I am not an equal strictly on gender or in retrospect some boundaries are not respected, especially in reference to my personal life.

temperatefight1 karma

Thanks for the response...Our bitter rivals ammo. We loved pranking those dummies. We once filled their bus with coconut crabs at night...Have you ever pulled any pranks against ammo?

laughing_daises1 karma

Hmm none that are worth mentioning

DirtFueler1 karma

Are you going to get your A&P when you're done? Join us over at /r/aviation!

laughing_daises1 karma

No, I don't plan on getting my A&P. While I enjoy maintenance now, it's not for me in the long run. Time for a new chapter

Seeming1 karma

I was a load toad for 6 years. I didn't enjoy it. I wished I had chosen a noner job. Do you regret your career choice, all "ho-rah" aside?

laughing_daises2 karma

As I stated in other comments, I was a reclass so I didn't chose weapons. But now that I'm in it I genuinely do enjoy it. The only disclaimer I have to that is I wish I could've been placed in a job that can immediately covert to a civilian career. But I like to challenge myself and this has been on several levels.

wanttobeacop1 karma

Do you like your job? Are you ever treated any differently than your male counterparts? Thank you for your service!

laughing_daises2 karma

In my personal opinion females can be treated differently than her male counter parts, which I feel is a constant battle is self assessment as verifying that your actions are not causing the difference in treatment. Such as repeatedly making excuses for efforts put forth or lack of.

taffboy131 karma

Did you start off in the Air force doing this job

laughing_daises1 karma

Yes, I did.

throwawayaf011 karma

Ammo troop here, we provide "Weapons Troops" with all their weapons...I should of done one of these!

laughing_daises4 karma

You should've, but you didn't. Just another silly ammo troop ;)

kungpowgoat1 karma

Have you ever just sat and chilled on top of a 2000lb jdam while eating a sandwich or MRE?

laughing_daises3 karma

I have never loaded a JDAM, so I've never had to opportunity. But if I had, but if probably bypass that potential Quality Assurance fail.

Sirlantedise1 karma

How many rounds go into a gun on say an f16?

laughing_daises3 karma

The ammo drum has a 511-round 20mm capacity, which the gun itself can only shoot 6,000 rounds per minute.

Pluvials1 karma

You mentioned below that you don't plan on re-enlisting. Can I ask why? What do you plan/think about doing after getting out?

laughing_daises1 karma

Coming in I didn't plan on making it a career from the beginning, but I also plan on going to school and pursuing becoming an occupational therapists.

firemyth-1 karma

Why does this get an AMA? My entire family has worked in the AF everything from intel to weapons systems technician. Hell, I used to fly the UH-60. Just curious what prompts something to be AMA material?

laughing_daises6 karma

Mostly because I found the questions and material interesting in this AMA http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1vylnx/iama_us_navy_submariner_ama/

I didn't mean to offend, nor classify myself as greater than anyone. I saw some people genuinely interested after reading that previously mentioned AMA and thought I'd see if I could answer anyones questions that reflected my experience.

Also, I think that you're families military legacy is quite exceptional as well as your profession. I have a personal connection, in that my husband is a OH-58D pilot.

EDIT: I also didn't think I'd get a lot of questions, if any

firemyth3 karma

alright, fair point...

laughing_daises3 karma

Are you still flying the the Black Hawk?

Shit_box_1 karma

[deleted]

laughing_daises2 karma

No, he is a warrant