December 12, 1997 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A new country, culture, and a one-of-a-kind job await a Hill officer halfway around the world. Maj. James Hedges, 388th Fighter Wing F-16 pilot, departed the United States recently; his destination, the country of Jordan in the Middle East.
He is part of the Peace Falcon program teaching Jordanian pilots how to employ the Fighting Falcon tactically.
Jordanian F-16 student pilots have already completed initial pilot training in the United States. Now, the major will help further their training in basic fighter maneuvers and surface attack techniques.
"I?m going over to Jordan
basically as an advisor to their Air Force and I will fly with them as an instructor pilot," said Hedges. "My primary mission then will be to help them set up their F-16 squadron in Mufaq Salti Air Base."
Jordan acquired the F-16s in a deal where the United States leased them 16 restored Fighting Falcons. The F-16s will be an addition to the fighters they already have. The Jordanian Air Force also flies U.S. F-5s and French Mirage F-1s.
The official Jordanian language is Arabic and although Hedges speaks it, he probably won?t need it when training the Jordanian pilots because they have also attended English classes in the United States.
Hedges will return from this trip just in time for Christmas and then he?s off again to Jordan with his family for two years.
The Hedges? new home in Amman, Jordan?s capital, is 60 miles east of the base. Although the drive to work will be a bit long, the major doesn?t see that as a problem. He is extremely happy with his new assignment.
"I think it?s going to be a really good job," said the 16-year-veteran. "For one, I?ll be working with the Jordanian Air Force to help them set up the F-16 squadron, which should provide a lot of challenges. Additionally, living in that area of the world with so much biblical history and archeology, I think it will provide my family and me with a lot of interesting opportunities as well."
Hedges will be assigned to the American Embassy and his children will attend the American Community School for diplomatic families from around the world. Jordan?s King Hussein also has two children attending the school.