An example of 'maintainer humor' from a Facebook page created by Staff Sgt. Michael Taylor. (Courtesy photo)
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Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Taylor (Courtesy photo)
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Pilots are trained but maintainers are born.
Aircraft will not stop breaking down or stop flying at the end of a maintainer’s duty day, so maintainers have a unique dedication to the job, said Staff Sgt. Michael Taylor.
“Aircraft maintenance is about as close as you can get to directly supporting the mission, without flying the thing yourself,” Taylor said in an email to Air Force Times. “While there is truth to the statement that everyone has a small part to play in a much bigger mission, maintainers take pride in having the mission literally in their hands at times. That isn’t to take anything away from support agencies and the jobs they perform to support everyone else. However, [legendary fighter ace] Robin Olds never shot anyone down in a meatloaf.”
But Taylor, who is stationed at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., noticed that maintainers were not represented on social media, so in April 2013 he created the “Maintainer Humor” page on Facebook. Today it has close to 39,000 followers and has become the place where maintainers go to share news and memes about what it’s like to fix aircraft for a living.
“I wanted to create something where folks could post and share funny pictures and stories,” Taylor said. “At first I created a group, and after the traffic started to pick up, I decided to just make a page. I didn’t know what to expect, I just wanted to give folks in the maintenance world a place to find humor and raise morale.”
Anyone who wants to know more about maintainers’ distinct brand of humor need only visit the web page and read memes such as: “Using small latex gloves is like taking an MRE sh--: Good luck getting the job done without tearing something.”
Most of the posts are about maintenance operations and working on or around the flightline, Taylor said.
“The maintainer community is like a giant fraternity and with that presents many comedic moments or opportunities to poke fun of ourselves and each other,” he said. “There is a playful rivalry between the various different specialties. We take cheap shots at one another, but it’s all in jest. At the end of the day, we all leave work dirty, sweaty and tired together.”
The Facebook page has five main moderators, including Taylor, he said. Four of the moderators are active-duty Air Force and one is prior service Air Force.
“While we have at one point or another had every branch represented, folks have came and went,” Taylor said. “Moderating the page does take up a fair amount of time and sometimes guys get burnt out and/or lose interest. It’s a labor of love, that’s for sure!”
Since its inception, Maintainer Humor has evolved from a place to post funny memes and pictures to an online community by and for maintainers, Taylor said.
“We have received messages and pictures from different nations and branches the world over,” he said. “The community, which we lovingly refer to as “Maintainer Nation,” has come together to share stories, ask work related questions, and as a medium to help other maintainers in need. The biggest reward for me since starting the page was when a widow wrote in telling us that reading the jokes helped her remember her husband and his love of the job.”