Being a maintenance technician on F/A-18 Jet Fighter Aircraft, in the Navy, your flashlight can make the difference between life and death for my crew. Anything small, like a cotter key or fastener, can be left behind and sucked into an intake of an aircraft, causing an engine to explode and quickly turn into a bomb. Late one night, working round the clock on an 18-hour shift, in the cold Nevada desert during a routine detachment preparing our pilots to bomb Afghanistan, we were changing a tire on a jet. The Navy issues Maglites, which are bulky and normally drain the batteries very quickly. We use our flashlights for a good six hours straight while performing maintenance at night, so you can imagine how dull the flashlights become as the night goes on. Well, being an aircraft duty inspector, I never leave my rack without my SureFire 6P® LED [superseded by the 6PX Tactical--Ed.] even though you're technically not allowed to have anything in your pockets while working on the flight line or flight deck.
As usual, my Maglite died quickly, and we were left in the dark, cleaning up our tools and trying to make sure we had everything. We only had about five minutes before the pilot would be starting up the aircraft to execute his next mission. As we left the aircraft to go tell the pilots their aircraft was ready, I conducted a quick search with my 6P and was shocked at what I found. We had dropped a small bold and a used cotter key on the groundâright in front of one the intake of one of the jet engines. If it wasn't for my 6P lighting up the scene, we could've destroyed a 56-million dollar aircraft or, worse yet, killed someone. After that night, I told all of my sailors they needed to get themselves SureFires; that I didn't care about the standard-issue lights we were supposed to use. In my line of work, darkness can be a killer, and we can't afford to miss anything.
Virginia Beach, VA>