Clear skies for communications Airman Published Nov. 2, 2015 By Staff Sgt. Rachelle Blake 55th Wing Public Affairs OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- While a majority of the 557th Weather Wing is comprised of Airmen from the weather career field, there are also other key players making the mission happen. Among them is Senior Airman Ryan Childs, 2d Systems Operations Squadron alphanumeric collections software technician, or the civilian equivalent of a computer programmer. While most programmers spend years in school, Childs joined the Air Force at 19 with a small number of college credits and after mere months of training became responsible for ensuring Air Force weather programs were up and running. His programs guarantee the safety of countless service members and millions of dollars of equipment. "Our mission is to process weather data and provide uninterrupted products to Air Force weather stations around the world," Childs said. "How it was put to me was, if pilots don't get their weather data, they could fly into a storm and die." Although becoming a communications Airman was always his goal, he had no idea it was even a possibility to ended up working in an organization supporting the Air Force weather mission. "When I first got here, I thought, 'What did I get myself into?'" Childs said. "I was ill-prepared for weather." He said he would call friends from technical school and they would talk about how they were programming cellphone applications. Initially he didn't find his own job as glamorous, but after a few months of training, he came to realize the importance of the mission and quickly excelled as a programmer. "On the job training is my favorite part," Childs said. "Learning programming day-by-day is like going to school without actually going to school." It is the challenge and unpredictability that drives him. "Learning new program languages can be difficult," Childs said. "Sometimes we have to change the language because there is another one that is faster and doesn't use as much computer memory." His dedication and enthusiasm hasn't gone unnoticed, and his unit is glad to have him on board. "Senior Airman Childs is a valuable member of the team," said Roxanne Gelb, Child's supervisor. "He is a hard worker and picks up things quickly. I am very happy to have him on the team."