March 26, 2008 (by Asif Shamim) - F-16C #83-1165 affectionately known as "Lethal Lady" belonging to the Vermont ANG reached a milestone on Monday. It is the first F-16 airframe to log 7,000 hours of flight time.
F-16C block 25 #83-1165 becomes the first 'C' model to reach 7000 Flt Hours
The achievement was reached at 10.14h local time and at the controls was Lt. Col. Thomas "TJ" Jackman who has been flying #83-1165
for the last 10 years.
Jackman was quoted as saying reaching the milestone is a great feeling.
"Well it means a lot to me because I think uh actually, I'm a lot older than that plane and there's a lot of guys my age that don't get to fly this anymore so it means a lot to me," said Jackman after a training run, Tuesday afternoon.
"Lethal Lady" has clocked over 1,100 hours of combat flight time during Operation Iraqi Freedom having been deployed three times in the last 4 years with Col Jackman. VTANG fleet of block 25
F-16's includes only two airframes with fewer than 5,000 hours of flight time on the books.
Jackman give credits to the maintenance crew for getting the F-16 to this point. When build back in the 1980s the airframe was expected to do no more than 4,000 hours. With several trips to Lockheed Martin, and the hard work of Vermont Air National Guard crews, the plane has nearly doubled its life expectancy.
"It definitely makes you feel good," said Staff Sergeant William Russell. "We take a lot of pride in what we do here and the maintenance organization is definitely, we feel its top notch."
A special 7,000 hour logo has been designed and is worn on the tail of the jet.
The celebration of the milestone is only marred by the fact that Vermont's Air National Guard is getting new planes, resulting in the guardsmen sending there old jets to the "boneyard" in Tuscon, Arizona.
"It's a sombering experience definitely," says SSgt. Ryan Cathrall. "It kind of hurts to reach such a great milestone only to put them away."
Col. Jackman was quoted to have said this in regards to the future mission change and the withdrawl of "Lethal Lady".
"She's done her job, it's time for her to go rest and it's time for the green mountain boys to continue on with the newer aircraft."