Approximately 250 new Soldiers pass through the 128th Aviation Training Brigades aircraft electrician ‘15F’ military occupational specialty course each year, providing the Army a continuous supply of Soldiers to keep its helicopters airborne and operational.

Maintaining a steady supply of 15Fs is an important task with over 5,000 helicopters, sometimes referred to as “birds”, in service and all dependent on functioning electrical components.

“Without this, Army aviation ceases to exist,” says Sgt. 1st Class Hezekiah Jenkins, Charlie Company, 1-210th Aviation Regiment, 1st Battalion, 128th Aviation Brigade, 15F instructor. “This is where they’re born, this is where they’re raised, and hopefully where they come back to reciprocate all that knowledge they’ve taken in and experienced.”

The Army has also been modifying the delivery of the education to students. Recent years have seen the transition to more hands-on education as well as less instructor dictated.

“They’ll look up at you and give you that subtle cue, or they’ll be so ingrained in the computer trying to find something and they don’t want to disappoint,” said Jenkins. “You can almost tell right away if someone is struggling and if they’re quiet and reserved. Seeing that in their face and being able to walk over to and ask, ‘hey, have you figured it out?’, or ‘Are you struggling with something or what do you need help with?’”, Jenkins added.

The course spans across 16 weeks and is their first professional experience coming out of basic training. A total of eight students are assigned to a class, which helps to allow for more one-on-one education between student and instructor.

“When I first came here I thought I would struggle a little bit, but the instructors have been very patient and professional with me,” said Pvt. Cody Helm, a 15F student. “We’re always honest with our instructor and if we’re uncomfortable with something, we’ll let him know and he’ll always go back and go over it again.”

The course begins with introductory principles and basic electrical understanding, while introducing Soldiers to electrical instruments and schematics, along with manuals and reference materials.