HMLA 269's AO/AGs keep birds in air

6 Sep 2000 | Lance Cpl. Zachary A. Crawford

The most noticeable members in military aviation are usually the pilots who actually operate the aircraft. Some people do not always realize how other billets support the unit's overall mission. Take, for example, aerial observers/aerial gunners. Their job is absolutely essential.An AO/AG's primary job is to make sure that the helicopter stays in good running condition before, during and after flights. They also ensure the safety of passengers during flight missions, while possessing the ability to engage targets while in flight with a multitude of weapon systems."We do more than just look around and shoot at targets," said Sgt. Matthew R. Ivey, AO/AG, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron-269. "We also have the job of acting as the eyes of the pilots. The pilots can only see everything from their three o'clock to their nine o'clock positions. We are able to look through the doors to see what is above, below and behind the bird."Next to being the eyes of the pilots, the AO/AGs also have to make sure that their aircraft is prepared to fly."We have to check out our birds each time we fly," said Ivey. "That consists of everything from checking all of the fluids and the outside of the bird, to doing all the daily turnarounds needed to maintain the aircraft. We check them out from top to bottom and from nose to tail."Maybe some people do notice and recognize the pilots first when they see or imagine a flight crew. However, without the aerial observer/ aerial gunners, pilots could not do their job effectively.