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It seems that the ALSE people rock.

Aviation Life Support Equipment is a small, but heavily-trafficked office just outside the briefing rooms at the stagefield. Before every flight, one of the pilots goes to ALSE to check out life-support vests to wear in-flight. The vests are packed with goodies which are only useful after having been shot down. We wear them, even in training flights in the US, because the Army thinks it good policy that every pilot be thoroughly convinced that one simply doesn’t fly without an ALSE vest.

They’re also the people in charge of maintaining helmets. As I was returning the vests from today’s flight, the ALSE guy noticed that my helmet had been issued to me last September, and offered to refurbish it.

About 40 minutes later, after the debriefing, I stopped by at ALSE and discovered that they had replaced and tightened all the moving parts, given me a new chinstrap to replace the old one, and replaced the microphone and speakers with newer versions. This kind of continuous upgrade service is astonishingly cool–if they serviced computers, the equivalent would be adding a gig of ram, upgrading the video card, and throwing another hard drive into the RAID. All of this, just because my helmet is six months old.

Sometimes, Army life is demanding. Events like this, though, make me feel like I have the coolest job in the world.

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