September 23, 2008 (by SrA Andrew Dumboski) - A Nellis pilot reached a flying milestone September 18th in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, when he logged his 3,000th hour.
Lt. Col. David Thirtyacre, USAF Warfare Center Deputy A3 (center), talks with Brig. Gen. Stephen L. Hoog, USAF Warfare Center commander, after completing a sortie in an F-16 with the general. The sortie took Colonel Thirtyacre over the 3,000-flying-hour mark in the F-16 Fighting Falcon. [USAF photo by SrA. Jason Huddleston]
Lt. Col. David Thirtyacre, United States Air Force Warfare Center Deputy A3, played down the accomplishment, saying that what's more interesting is the manner in which he reached the milestone.
"Three thousand hours in the F-16 isn't itself that big of an accomplishment. There are hundreds of fighter pilots who have 3,000 hours," Colonel Thirtyacre said. "What makes it significant is that half of those hours were here at Nellis."
"The average sortie at Nellis is much more complex than most places," the colonel added. "The air-to-air and surface-to-air threats along with the range target sets we have available make every mission demanding. Additionally, the flyers in the test community and the Weapons School are extremely competent and it requires you to be on your game every day; which is what makes it enjoyable and challenging."
The flight that took Colonel Thirtyacre over the 3,000-hour mark carried its own significance.
"The remarkable part of the sortie was actually the four flight members," he said. "We had an active-duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and foreign exchange pilot in the flight. A few years ago, this would never have happened. It's just an example of where we have come with total force."
The colonel, who started flying with his dad when he was 14 and has logged 270 combat hours, said that he doesn't have any plans to hang up his flight suit just yet.
"I've been blessed with 20 straight years of flying the F-16 with fantastic units like the 526th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 555th Fighter Squadron, United States Air Force Weapons School and 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron," he said. "I'm not really sure what I would do if I wasn't flying - I'm not good at anything else."