180FW Member Finds Success in Avionics Field
By Senior Master Sgt. Beth Holliker, 180th Fighter Wing
/ Published March 02, 2020
Swanton, Ohio --
Critical thinking and problem solving are desired skillsets employers often look for when hiring employees, but for Fighter Aircraft Integrated Avionics Specialists, these skills can be matter of life, death and mission success.
For Staff Sgt. Mario Bynum, an F-16 Fighting Falcon Integrated Avionics Technician, assigned to the Ohio National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing, critical thinking when troubleshooting the fighter jet’s highly sophisticated avionics systems is a favorite part of his job.
Processing information quickly and making decisive decisions are crucial skills fighter pilots need to execute the mission and it is the advanced electronic warfare capabilities within the aircraft’s integrated avionics systems that provide immediate information to the pilots.
“Avionics is important because it integrates all systems together, allowing us to complete the mission,” said Bynum.
Avionics technicians ensure that pilots are able to receive needed information through high-tech communication systems and flight controls.
Using a vast library of technical data, avionics technicians maintain more than 10 integrated systems including attack control radar, infrared and laser instruments and displays, flight controls, navigation, radio and satellite communications, as well as defensive and offensive identification and electronic warfare systems.
“My job consists of operational and functional checks and troubleshooting of the avionics systems,” said Bynum. “We are responsible for the programming, maintenance and repair of these systems.”
Bynum joined the 180FW in 2015 as a part-time guardsman, choosing the avionics field because the skillset can allow him to easily transition into the civilian aviation sector.
Throughout his five year military career, Bynum excelled in and developed a passion for the field, leading him to change to his career path and becoming a fulltime member of the 180FW avionics team in 2018.
“Trust your process and don’t race with anyone else, but yourself,” said Bynum. “I try not to think about things too much when it comes to my goals and where I want to be. The difference between me right now and where I want to be, is taking that first step of faith in that direction.”
Though he is fulltime with the wing, Bynum is also taking advantage of the Air National Guard’s 100% paid tuition and monthly G.I. Bill stipend education benefits to pursue his future goal of earning a four-year degree.
Bynum is enrolled at the University of Toledo in 2021, majoring in Pre-Med Neuroscience, and plans to graduate in 2025.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to make things happen and to succeed,” said Bynum. “My number one goal right now is to finish my degree and within the next five years, I plan to pursue a commissioning opportunity and become an officer.”
As Bynum continues striving to meet both his personal and military goals, he urges anyone considering a career in the aviation industry to consider the Air National Guard.
“Aviation will continue to grow in the future,” said Bynum. “There are so many great and different opportunities to work on many different aircraft and so many different locations.”