A leaked Air Force PowerPoint slide featuring coveralls that aircraft maintainers will be able to wear to and from the base. (Facebook/Air Force amn/nco/snco).
US Air Force maintainers are being issued new grey coveralls for the “dirty jobs” they carry out on a daily basis.
The new coveralls -which give them the flexibilities offered with flight suits without encroaching on a privilege exclusive to aviators and aircrew- are known as the MDU, and are a sage grey color with hook-and-loop spaces for patches and name tapes.
“Well they look like if I were to puke and make that color into an MDU that would be it,” one F-15 fighter jet said of the color, with others drawing parallels to “janitor” grey.
Old USAF policy forbade maintainers from wearing coveralls in public, forcing them to change into ABUs. With the new coveralls and policy, maintainers will be allowed to wear the less-than-aesthetically pleasing greys when out and about.
“We were basically always told to go to-and-from work in either civilian clothes or the utility/airman battle uniform. Coveralls were very strictly ‘at work’ wear,” an F-16 maintainer told Task & Purpose. “It may have been dog-and-pony show purposes and not a strict regulation, but that is what I always went with. Show up in uniform for roll call, change into coveralls, and then get to work.”
It is unknown if there will be guidelines for the uniforms when they get dirty- something that will inevitably happen when working on aircraft.
“If they’re comfortable enough, clean up to the point where they’re presentable/command doesn’t yell at you, and keep you from getting your daily uniform dirty, I don’t see an issue,” the F-16 maintainer said.
Not everyone sees the practicality of coveralls, however, especially since they are a single-piece item.
“I prefer a two piece myself, but a jumpsuit isn’t a bad option either if we’re allowed to wear jackets and cold weather layers over the top, and able to roll the top half down in the summer,” said one C-130 crew chief.
“Most guys I know don’t wear coveralls, we would rather just wear Dickies pants and call it a day,” added an F-15 maintainer. “It’s user preference. There’s nothing wrong with coveralls, but if they took the puke color scheme out of play I feel like everyone in maintenance would appreciate it.”
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