JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- To some, the loud sound of a jet firing up is a nuisance, but to Chris Bahe, it signals “the sound of freedom.”
“I’m used to the noise,” Bahe, 12th Flying Training Wing T-38C Talon II crew chief, said. “I’d rather hear the noise and have the jets ready to go because I know they’re up in the air doing their mission.”
Bahe, who served 20 years in the Navy working on jets, spent part of his career as the crew chief for the No. 5 jet of the Blue Angels, the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron. Now he brings that same precision and expertise to help fuel the mission of the 435th Fighter Training Squadron, which is to conduct Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals student training and train new IFF instructors.
Not only does Bahe enjoy the noise of the jets, but he can tell just by the sound of the engine if there’s something wrong.
“I’ve been around the T-38Cs for a while, and I can tell if an engine is not running properly,” Bahe, who has been a crew chief at JBSA-Randolph for nearly nine years, said. “You know when something is not right. You can hear it or feel it through the ground. It vibrates.”
But the former Sailor does more than just check for engine problems. He performs a walk-around inspection where he checks over various aspects of the aircraft, such as ensuring there’s enough fuel onboard, checking the tires and looking for any hydraulic fuel leaks that may have occurred.
Bahe then signs off, line-per-line, on each item of the aircraft and gives his “blessing” for the pilot to take off.
“I take my job very seriously,” Bahe said. “I try to give the pilot a zero-defect jet and make sure it’s good for flight and ready to go when they go up again.”
Bahe also provides training for new crew chiefs after they have completed an aircraft familiarization course. He’s one of about four trainers who can deliver training on the T-38C at JBSA-Randolph to ensure new crew chiefs can perform tasks like refueling the aircraft and changing a tire if need be.
“Everybody here should know everything about the T-38Cs,” he said. “We’re always learning from each other.”
Bahe said he’s proud to be working for the 12th FTW and has confidence that every time he sees a T-38C go up in flight that he’s examined, the pilots will be safe and able to complete the mission.
“They put their trust and confidence in me that I’ve given them a good product,” Bahe said. “It makes me be on my toes and makes sure I put out a good product so the students can train and get to their next duty station.”