June 6, 2010 (by Tim Norton) - Over 150 base personnel, family and friends came out to welcome back Brig. Gen. William "Blaze" Binger after completing his final flight in an F-16 on June 3.
Brig. Gen. William 'Blaze' Binger, 482nd FW commander, prepares to climb into the F-16 for his final flight on June 3rd, 2010. General Binger is a command pilot flying fighter jets for 29 years accumulating over 4,500 hours in the F-16 including 40 combat missions over Iraq. He assumed command of the 482nd FW in May of 2008. [USAF photo by Tim Norton]
As the 482nd Fighter Wing commander taxied the aircraft in one last time, emergency response vehicles from the base and 20 law enforcement officers and vehicles from Miami-Dade County greeted him with sirens, lights and showers of water.
When the plane came to a stop and the engine shut down, the smiling pilot knew what was coming next - his son Jake, ready to give his father a good soaking courtesy of a fire hose.
"After landing I sat at the end of the runway thinking how fortunate I've been to fly for so many years and now it was coming to an end," said General Binger. "As I was taxing in, I was trying to keep my emotions in check; it was really something to see all the flashing lights and people waiting."
After thanking everyone individually, the commander took the traditional drink of champagne.
Ceremoniously, when a pilot completed their 100th combat mission during the Vietnam War, the ensuing final, or "fini" flight included a bottle of champagne to celebrate a safe last landing and the end of their tour of duty.
Flying alongside the General during his last flight was Col. Jose Monteagudo, 482nd Fighter Wing vice commander. The one hour training mission took them over the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas.
General Binger is a command pilot that has flown fighter jets for 29 years accumulating over 4,500 hours in the F-16 including 40 combat missions over Iraq
. He assumed command of the 482nd FW in May 2008.
Next week Binger will head to his new job at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., to become commander of the newly formed Force Generation Center, Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command.