August 19, 2004 (by Master Sgt. Val Gempis) - First Lt. Wyatt Morrise, an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, jumped at the chance to come here after graduating from aviator school. Although it is a one-year unaccompanied tour, almost every veteran F-16 pilot he met recommended this place as one of the best flying assignments in the Air Force.
35th Fighter Squadron F-16C block 40 #89-2071 taxis out for a mission at Kunsan. The aircraft is flown by the squadron's 1st Lt. John Wilson. [U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Val Gempis
Now, after six months here, he said his only complaint is there are not enough hours in a day to learn.
"There's so much work to do. There are so many things to know," he said.
Kunsan is an excellent place for new pilots, he said. The operation tempo is high, and they have a lot of opportunities to fly. He also said the best part of their job here, unlike assignments at other bases, is the realistic training. The crews said they conduct operations like they would do during wartime.
First Lt. Amy Ringwald, a new pilot assigned to the 35th FS
, said Kunsan is a great place to concentrate on being "good."
Every day, 35th FS pilots learn how to integrate their tactics and techniques with other American pilots from Osan Air Base, South Korea
, and those from the South Korean air force.
The unit's pilots said they are very focused on their mission.
"We take our job here very seriously. We study up on our threats. We know exactly what we're going up against," Lieutenant Ringwald said.
Holloman maintainers training at Kunsan
About 300 Airmen and their stealth aircraft from Holloman are currently also deployed at Kunsan as part of an air and space expeditionary force rotation to the Pacific region.
The deployment is giving the Airmen a firsthand look at where they someday may have to fight.
"We're learning how to operate overseas," said Staff Sgt. Alex Brown, a crew chief. "It's better to find out the problems now than during a real-world deployment."
The F-117 stealth aircraft take off daily to conduct training over the South China Sea, leaving behind maintenance crews to hone their skills in their temporary home.
Airmen conduct daily inspections, functional checks, troubleshooting and repairs on general, propulsion and pneudraulics systems of the F-117 to ensure the planes fly safely and on time. They also launch, recover and generate aircraft to meet exercise or war-readiness taskings.
Working away from home has allowed the Airmen to build relations with the base F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft maintainers. Because F-16 maintainers are also qualified to work on F-117s, a number of Airmen who used to be in New Mexico are stationed at Kunsan.