June 30, 2011 (by A1C David Owsianka) - A pilot at Luke Air Force Base reached a feat that only 30 other F-16 pilots have accomplished throughout their careers.
Lt. Col. Eric Perlman
Lt. Col. Eric Perlman, 69th FS assistant director of operations, receives a spray down celebration from his son, Jake, after completing his 4,000 hour flying mission on June 21st, 2011 at Luke AFB.
, 69th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations, reached his 4,000th F-16 flying hour June 21 when he taxied from the runway onto the 308th FS
Reaching this milestone didn't come easy. In fact, it takes an average of eight hours, from mission preparation through post-mission grade sheet completion, to fly a 75-minute sortie. Some missions, depending on complexity, can take more.
Colonel Perlman developed a love for flying at a young age. When he was 14 he began flying as a civil aviation flyer. Over the next several years he grew up in the cockpit, first becoming a private pilot and then flying commercial airplanes by age 18.
Colonel Perlman began his military pilot training at Sheppard AFB
, Texas, in 1986 flying the T-37 aircraft. After completing his training, he went to MacDill AFB, Fla., to train in the F-16.
"During my first flight in an F-16, I was busier than anything and didn't even have time to get scared," he said. "My first solo flight was a different story though; my mind was filled with 'what ifs.'"
Colonel Perlman spent most of his career in the Air Force Reserve serving the United States while maintaining a full time job as a commercial airline pilot.
The flying portion is the same as an active-duty pilot, but reservists have to manage the same level of skill while maintaining civilian employment, he said.
Colonel Perlman has helped train new F-16 pilots at Luke on various techniques and tactics to be used throughout their careers.
"He is the poster child for how well Total Force integration works here at Luke," said Maj. Keith Gempler, 308th FS assistant director of operations. "We have a great mix of experienced instructors at Luke. Colonel Perlman brings so much to the table because of his experience in jets. He has flown more than a thousand sorties."
According to Colonel Perlman, being the 31st pilot to reach 4,000 flying hours is one of his greatest accomplishments as a pilot.
"The nonstop challenges of flying and continuously evolving tactics have helped me strive to be the best every day," Colonel Perlman said. "When I am finished flying for the Air Force I want to be able to walk away knowing I didn't leave anything unfinished.