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Belgian pilot passes 4000 hrs in the F-16

August 30, 2014 (by Asif Shamim) - Commander Marc "CharlZ" Longle, became the first Belgian pilot to pass 4000hrs on August 29th, 2014 after a short flight from Florennes AB in Belgium. He becomes a member of a very exclusive club.

Commander Marc 'Charlz' Longle becomes the first Belgian F-16 pilot to pass 4000hrs on August 29th, 2014. [Photo by Michael Moors]

During the one hour flight, Marc "CharlZ" Longle was accompanied by three other F-16s and was saluted by fire hoses from two fire engines after landing back at the base. His parents, family and 100s of guests attended the event to honour his achievement.

A resident of LièGE region, Longle becomes the first Belgian F-16 driver in history to reach 4,000 flying hours after a 24 year operational career. He has participated in almost all operations by the Belgian Air Force since the mid-1990s, from Bosnia, Kosovo, several Afghanistan deployments and the air policing mission over Baltic countries as part of NATO (Baltic Air Policing), said the commanding officer of the 2nd tactical wing, said Colonel Thierry Dupont, during a ceremony at the air base Florennes.

"The hardest part is not related to the physical or concentration but to the motivation," said Commander Longle after his flight. "The advantage is that the F -16 is constantly evolving. This is what keeps the urge to fly. "

The 4,000 hours Club has over 40 members mostly made up of American pilots, but has recently had other members pass the milestone from Turkey and Denmark. Several American pilots have gone on to surpass more than 5,000 and even 6,000 hrs respectivley.

At this time it would seem Commander Longle may be the only Belgian pilot to reach this total. "4000 hours of flight is rare and exceptional" stressed the Commander of the Air Component, General Claude Van de Voorde.

Commander Longle was born on September 28, 1964 and joined the air force in 1981 via the Royal Cadet School. He studied at the Royal Military Academy and his pilot training was carried out in Goetsenhoven and Brustem, he obtained his wings in August 1990. In 1991 he enters the 2nd Tactical Wing in Florennes.

Longle is expected to retire from the airforce in the next few months.

Additional images:

Commander Longle greet by his Crew Chief after his flight where he passed 4000 Flt hrs in the F-16. [Photo by Michael Moors]

Commander Longle together with his colleagues from BAF 1 squadron after his flight where he passed 4000 hrs in the F-16. [Photo by Michael Moors]

F-16 Fighting Falcon - 4000 Flight Hours patch [Asif Shamim Collection]