Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “air force background and tools”

US Air Force Fact Sheets

US Air Force Fact Sheets – http://www.af.mil/AboutUs/FactSheets.aspx

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Who are the Guardian Angels of the US Air Force?
  • How heavy is an AIM-9 Sidewinder?
  • What are the functions of the Air Force Petroleum Agency?


The Air Force, like its sister services, shares information on weapons systems on this site, but there is more. This is like a complete reference to the US Air Force. You may browse fact sheets by alphabet or search using keyword and/or type. Search results may be sorted date or title.

The aircraft and weapons factsheets include a photo of the item under discussion, along with mission, Features, Background, General Characteristics (including unit cost in some cases), and point of contact. 

The experimental systems include the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, which is the first resuable orbiter since the Space Shuttle. In 2010, it orbited the Earth for 224 days in orbit before landing autonomously on a landing strip at Vandenberg AFB in California.


Air Force E-Publishing

Air Force E-Publishing – http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What is the proper procedure for spreading fertilizer on Air Force lawns?
  • How does the Air Force fight fires in war zones?
  • What are the functions of an Air Mobility Liaison Officer (AMLO)?


This is the place to go if your story involves contemporary Air Force characters. Every manual, instruction and form (at least the unclassified ones) that run their lives can be found here, starting with “AFI36-2903 – Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel.” AFI36-2903 dictates hairstyles, acceptable tattoos (complete with tattoo measurement guide) and how and where to wear the uniform. It also has a section on where NOT to wear the Air Force uniform. This section covers many contingencies. Here are five to give you a flavor of when NOT to have your characters wear their uniform:

  • When attending meetings of groups that the Attorney General of the United States has named as totalitarian, fascist, communist or subversive.
  • At any public meeting, demonstration, march, rally or interview if the purpose may be to advocate, express or approve opposition to the Armed Forces of the United States.
  • While participating in civilian court proceedings when the conviction would bring discredit to the Air Force.
  • When off base eating at restaurants where most diners wear business attire or at establishments that operate primarily to serve alcohol, do not wear utility uniforms such as ABUs, BDUs, etc., or the flight duty uniform.
  • When using frequent flyer miles to upgrade to business or first class. Thus, even when an upgrade to business or first class accommodations is legitimate, military personnel should avoid wearing the uniform to avoid the public perception of the misuse of government travel resources, which generates unnecessary complaints.

The front page has browse links to forms and publications for Departmental, Headquarters Air Force and Air National Guard.If you simply want to get the flavor for the types of publications the Air Force produces, I’d suggest searching on AFMAN, AFI or AFDD. AFMAN stands for Air Force Manual, AFI stands for Air Force Instruction and AFDD stands for Air Force Doctrine Document. You can also search by keyword on a topic you think might be regulated. It probably will be. If you’ve gleaned the publication number through other means, simply search it without using spaces, (i.e. AF673).

Examples of Air Force Publications:

  • Air Force Doctrine Document – (AFDD) 3-72, Nuclear Operations: Provides information on the effects of nuclear weapons, their use at a theater or strategic level and a high level view of command and control.
  • Air Force Instruction – AFI36-2903 – Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel: Prescribes dress and grooming standards for Air Force Servicemembers.
  • Air Force Manual – AFMAN 10-2504 Air Force Incident Management Guidance for Major Accidents and Natural Disasters: From the introduction: “Establishes responsibilities, procedures and standards for prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation resulting from major accidents or natural disasters within the continental United States (CONUS) and Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS).” Deals with hurricanes, hazmat accidents and includes a “Nuclear Weapons accident/incident response flowchart.”

The Air Force tracks their obsolete products as well. It provides a searchable database of these documents. It would be good to check publications you find from other places against the obsolete database just to make sure you find the current editions.

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