December 16, 2011 (by SrA Natasha Stannard) - Only 33 pilots in the 20-year history of the F-16 Fighting Falcon have reached 4,000 flying hours in the aircraft until December 14.
Lt. Col. Brian Egger
Lt. Col. Brian Egger, center, 480th FS pilot, is greeted by Col. David Lyons, 52nd OG commander, after landing on December 14th, 2011. Egger reached his 4,000th F-16 flying hour on this flight and is the 34th F-16 pilot in USAF history to reach this milestone. [USAF photo by SrA. Natasha Stannard]
, 480th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot, became the 34th pilot to do so Dec. 14 reaching more than 4,000 flight hours in the aircraft.
"This is very rare," said Lt. Col Aaron Piepkorn, 480th FS
director of operations. "There are thousands of F-16s and tens of thousands of F-16 pilots, but only a small number to reach that hour mark - this is a very significant achievement."
The pilot, who said he always wanted to fly, is not only an inspiration to those he flies with but a great asset in their training.
"Having that amount of time in one aircraft provides a wealth of experience for us all," Piepkorn said of the 23-year pilot. "No F-16 pilot on this base has even come close to the number of hours he has. The knowledge he has plays a significant role and prepares [newer pilots] in our squadron for the future."
Egger is stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany but is a part of the F-16 unit here where he completes his flight hours - most of which are instructor hours.
"I've been to a lot of different places," said Egger, who has been stationed at four different bases and on numerous deployments. "The people here treat me like royalty. It's been a great place to fly."
Pilots here are grateful to fly with him, as having someone with this much experience as instructor is like finding a diamond in the rough.
"Most guys with this many hours don't have most of them as instructor hours," said Capt. Link Sandwith, 480th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot. "It's rare to be able to stay in the cockpit this long, and he's doing it the right way as an instructor."
According to Capt. Daniel Schreiber, 480th FS F-16 pilot, he's also instructing the right way.
"He's an awesome instructor," Schreiber said. "It's cool to see his perspective and the way he incorporates the way things used to be done with the way things are done now."
These two pilots, Egger's family and many more from the squadron were on hand to congratulate Egger as he glided his F-16 onto the runway completing 4,000.1 hours of flight, and they weren't empty handed.
They continued the time-honored, Vietnam War tradition of bombarding the pilot as they tied him down to the runway with tape and hosed him down with water, making this career milestone unforgettable.
"I'm very fortunate," Egger said soaked. "A lot of people from mechanics to air-traffic controllers have to do a lot of work to make this happen."