December 20, 2006 (by SrA Eydie Sakura) - After flying fighters for more than 23 years, he said he cannot believe he is paid to do it. Col. Darryl Roberson, 52nd FW commander, reached 1,000 hours in the F-16 on Nov. 17, the third time he has reached this milestone in his Air Force career.
Col. Darryl Roberson pulls into tight formation with another F-16 over the Turkish mountains after completing the final mission of Exercise Anatolian Eagle, conducted at Konya AFB. Colonel Roberson is commander of the 52nd Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem AFB. [USAF photo by MSgt. Ron Przysucha]
"I love flying. It's exhilarating, constantly a challenge and no two mission are ever the same," the wing commander said. "It's when I have been away from it for a short while, such as two years on staff tours, and I get back into a jet for requalification that it really hits me how much I love flying."
Colonel Roberson said the first time he reached 1,000 hours in a fighter was a big event, it is a major milestone and a mark for the amount of experience both as a fighter pilot and in that particular aircraft.
"This is my third jet to reach 1,000 hours in, so it's kind of unique, and I have been extremely fortunate to fly three different major platforms," he said. "I look forward to reaching the 4,000 hour mark in fighters but what it really means is that I have been around a long time."
His first flight in an F-16 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., after finishing his last job on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon was a watershed event for him.
"I forgot how good it was to fly a fighter like an F-16. I vowed that I will always fly until I physically cannot," he said.
The seasoned pilot has 1,000 hours in an F-16; 1,025 in the F-4 Phantom; and 1,960 in the F-15E Strike Eagle.
"This (milestone) will not impact my career, my wife is proud, and the wing will merely read about it in the paper," the colonel said.
"This wing has an incredible mission and everyone works hard every day to ensure we can complete it."