May 27, 2009 (by TSgt. Susan Stout) - The 944th Fighter Wing commander logged his 3,000th F-16 flying hour May 20 in a basic fighter maneuver mission at Luke AFB.
Brig. Gen. Kurt Neubauer, 56th FW commander, congratulates Col. Michael Popovich, 944th FW commander, on completing his 3,000th flying hour in the F-16 on May 20th, 2009. [USAF photo by TSgt. Susan Stout]
Col. Michael Popovich
has spent the equivalent of 125 days in the cockpit of an F-16, a feat few pilots reach in their career.
Of his 3,000 flying hours, Colonel Popovich has spent 293 of them flying combat tours in support of Operations Desert Storm, Provide Comfort II, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
"I am very fortunate to have flown in many offensive combat operations and to have had so many great opportunities over my Air Force career" said Colonel Popovich, a distinguish graduate of the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of Wyoming.
Colonel Popovich served in the Air Force, the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard. In his civilian career, he is a pilot for American Airlines.
Prior to his current assignment as commander, Colonel Popovich was the 944th Fighter Wing vice commander. He said his most rewarding assignment is being the 944th FW commander working with so many great Americans in the 944th FW and "Team Luke".
"The partnership we have here with the 56th Fighter Wing through our F-16 Total Force associate pilot program is a success story for the Air Force," he said. "I am grateful to 61st 'Top Dogs' Fighter Squadron for coordinating this event. Achieving 3,000 flying hours in the F-16 would have never occurred without the truly superb maintenance support here at Luke AFB
and in every unit throughout my entire career."