Without POL, Pilots can’t breathe

  • Published
  • By Colville McFee
  • 9th Reconnaissance Wing

When pilots need oxygen for high-altitude flights, Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants Airmen (POL) come with the tools they need. The 9th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels cryogenics technicians know how to make sure they provide an essential necessity to keep the mission going.

LOX is called Aviator’s Breathing Oxygen (ABO); it is a pilot’s main source of air at altitudes exceeding 10,000 feet. Liquid Oxygen (LOX) is paramount to U-2 pilots and the mission.

 “We take our job seriously to ensure pilots can breathe while wearing their suit,” said Senior Airman Verdes Cato, 9th LRS cryogenics technician. “We check and double each other to make sure nothing goes wrong when transferring liquid oxygen.”

Donning white Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other PPE is essential for the position to ensure that Airmen are safe while handling LOX and performing test.

 “We wear specialized protective gear to prevent our skin from burns because the LOX is pressurized gas at minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit.,” said Airman 1st Class Randy Willis, 9th LRS cryogenics technician.

After servicing and testing, the LOX is delivered where it is put into the U-2 Dragon Lady for the pilots to use.

 “Without fuels in any capacity, planes can’t fly and pilots can’t breathe, so we know how important our position is,” Cato said.