4th AMU keeps night mission going

Flight control specialist journeymen from the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit work on an AC-130U Spooky Gunship  at Hurlburt Field, Fla., May 16, 2014. The 4th AMU maintains the aircraft 24 hours a day to ensure the training missions go as planned. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Flight control specialist journeymen from the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit work on an AC-130U Spooky Gunship at Hurlburt Field, Fla., May 16, 2014. The 4th AMU maintains the aircraft 24 hours a day to ensure the training missions go as planned. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Airman 1st Class Eric Campbell, 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aerospace propulsion journeyman, works on an AC-130U Spooky Gunship at Hurlburt Field, Fla., May 16, 2014. The 4th AMU helps generate approximately 1000 training missions annually for the Spooky. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Airman 1st Class Eric Campbell, 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aerospace propulsion journeyman, works on an AC-130U Spooky Gunship at Hurlburt Field, Fla., May 16, 2014. The 4th AMU helps generate approximately 1000 training missions annually for the Spooky. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Senior Airman Christopher Hawkins and Airman 1st Class Eric Campbell, Aircraft Maintenance Unit aerospace propulsion journeymen, review technical orders before performing maintenance on an AC-130U Spooky Gunship at Hurlburt Field, Fla., May 16, 2014. The 4th AMU helps generate nearly 20 training mission flights each week. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Senior Airman Christopher Hawkins and Airman 1st Class Eric Campbell, Aircraft Maintenance Unit aerospace propulsion journeymen, review technical orders before performing maintenance on an AC-130U Spooky Gunship at Hurlburt Field, Fla., May 16, 2014. The 4th AMU helps generate nearly 20 training mission flights each week. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Airmen from the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, conduct maintenance on an AC-130U Spooky Gunship at Hurlburt Field, Fla., May 16, 2014. The Spooky is equipped with side-firing weapons, sophisticated sensors and navigation to provide firepower during extended combat periods. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Airmen from the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, conduct maintenance on an AC-130U Spooky Gunship at Hurlburt Field, Fla., May 16, 2014. The Spooky is equipped with side-firing weapons, sophisticated sensors and navigation to provide firepower during extended combat periods. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Before sunrise, when most people are waking up to start their day, Airmen from the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit are finishing up a hard nights work so the mission can continue during the day.

Airmen working the nightshift are the first-line of maintenance for the AC-130U Spooky Gunships.

The heavily armed Spooky, which performs more than 1000 training missions a year on Hurlburt Field, is equipped with side-firing weapons, sophisticated sensors and navigation to provide firepower during extended combat periods, at night and in adverse weather.

Just as the complex systems inside the Spooky help control the skies at night, it takes just as much coordination to ensure the aircraft can fly night missions.

"The quiet atmosphere gives us the opportunity to accomplish just as much as a larger crew," said Airman 1st Class Carlos Garcia, 4th AMU aerospace propulsion journeyman. "You have less people, but it helps keep the distractions down and we can work together easier."

Staff Sgt. Casey Schell, 4th AMU aerospace propulsion craftsman, prefers nightshift because of the ability to concentrate on the tasks.

"For me, the night shift is the best time to be able to focus on work, get everything done and operational before the day shift begins," said Schell.

Aircraft don't stop flying at the end of a normal duty day and require constant maintenance, which is why the maintainers remain dedicated to the job, according to Master Sgt. Jermel Freeman, 4th AMU production superintendent.

"Aircraft maintenance is about as close as you can get to directly supporting the mission, without flying the aircraft ourselves," Freeman said. "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 in their hands."