April 16, 2009 (by Capt. Anthony L. Bucci) - Four F-16C Fighting Falcons from the 174th Fighter Wing marked the first ball game ever played in the new Yankee Stadium, as the Yankees held their season opener on Thursday, April 16.
Aircrew members from the 174th FW of Syracuse N.Y., pose for a photo after performing the fly-by for the opening day ceremony for the new Yankee Stadium on April 16th, 2009. The F-16 crew members include bottom row from left to right, Capt. Scott Bissonnette and SSgt. Preston Cox and top row, Maj. Kurt Tongren, Maj. John Knutsen and Lt. Col. Sean McQuaid.
The F-16s took off at approximately 12:15 pm from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on their fly-by mission for the opening of the "New" Yankee Stadium.
"We are extremely proud of all of our New York teams and feel extremely honored to take part in this historic event" said Col. Kevin W. Bradley, 174th Fighter Wing Commander.
Maj. John Knutsen, 138th Fighter Squadron Director of Operations and Flight Lead for this formation said, "It is an honor to be able to support this fly-by in helping to open the New Yankee Stadium".
The 174th Fighter Wing has flown the F-16C Fighting Falcon for almost 20 years. The 174th Fighter Wing has been deployed nine times to South-West Asia in support of various operations. The last such deployment was this past summer, when the unit returned in August after supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom while being station at Balad Air Base, Iraq.
The F-16 can reach speeds of 1,500 mph and can withstand up to nine times the force of gravity (or 9 G's). It has 9 stations that can carry a variety of air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground munitions, fuel tanks, pods and sensors.
The 174th Fighter Wing was formed on October 28, 1947 as the 138th Fighter Squadron (FS
). The 138th FS was the first post-WWII Air National Guard flying unit in New York State. The unit flew P-47D Thunderbolts and was based at the former Army Air Force facilities at Hancock Field.