March 8, 2010 (by Capt. Anthony L.Bucci) - The 174th Fighter Wing concluded its F-16 operations on Saturday March 6, 2010 with a formal ceremony that was attended by the new Adjutant General for New York State.
Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley taxis past assembled family, friends and distinguished visitors for the last time with F-16C block 30 #85-1570 (marked 174 FW) at Hancock Field ANGB on March 6th, 2010. The 174th FW has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of OEF on December 1st, 2009.
Brig Gen. Patrick A. Murphy, NY-TAG joined 174FW Wing Commander Col Kevin W. Bradley on stage to speak to assembled group about the final F-16 flyoff from Hancock Field.
Murphy said, "Today should not be a moment of sadness as I have spoken to Air Force and Air National Guard Leaders about the dwindling piloted aircraft. Thanks to your leadership this unit is one of the most if not the most current unit in the Air National Guard with these Unmanned Aerial Vehicles".
The 2,000 or so folks gathered in the main hangar witnessed the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base Honor Guard present colors followed by some words from Murphy, Bradley, Congressman Dan Maffei and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney. Immediately following the speeches Bradley stepped form the stage and made his last walk out to his jet.
Bradley said, "The F-16 has been an outstanding aircraft for the unit, but it is just a machine. It has been the airmen of the 174th Fighter Wing that has made up this mission since 1988 and will continue to do so into the future".
While Bradley made his way to the flightline to join his wingman for the final F-16 flight in unit history, Lt. Col. Dan Tester, the assembled group witnessed the cutting of the F-16 farewell cake. This was immediately followed by a rousing F-16 send-off video that was produced by the 174FW Visual Information Office.
At approximately 3:15 the distinctive roar of the F-16 was heard as Tester was the first to take-off, followed moments later by Bradley. They made three passes over the facility, including a pass over the assembled group who has spilled onto the ramp area outside the hangar.
As the final two F-16s roared off the airfield assembled unit members, alumni, dignitaries, family and friends gather outside of the hangar to witness this moment in history that ended the era of piloted aircraft for the 174th Fighter Wing.
After Bradley and Tester completed their final pass overhead they headed north to the 174FW Forward Operating Location on Wheeler-Sack Army Air Field located at Ft. Drum. The airspace over WSAAF has served as the training space for the 174FW for many years as well as other aircraft from all over the Northeast. It will continue to be utilized by other units for their training requirements as well as the unit's new MQ-9 mission in the future.
When Bradley and Tester landed they were greeted by family, friends and unit members who congratulated them on their final flight, as well as their part in the end of an era.
The 174FW has been flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon since 1988 and jet aircraft for more than 60 years, so this was definitely a bitter-sweet moment for the unit.
Story at a Glance
- Safety Award from Lockheed Martin commemorating the 70,000 plus flying hours accomplished by the 174th Fighter Wing
- Since the unit received the F-16's, the total Sorties are 49,335 for 79,867 Flight Hours
- The Total Combat Sorties for the 174FW are 3,339 for 12,050.2 Flight Hours
- The unit had 4 F-16 conversions; block 10's in 1988, block 30's in 1993, block 25's in 1998, and then block 30's in 2002.
- Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Operation Provide Comfort, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom