March 4, 2021 (by Lieven Dewitte) - During a training flight on Friday, March 5, 2021, Captain Steven De Vries, a Belgian Air Force pilot based at Kleine Brogel AB, will reach the milestone of 5,000 flight hours in the F-16.
F-16AM #FA-94 as seen in May of 2017 adorning a special Tiger Meet scheme [Photo by Andrew Timmerman]
Forty-eight-year old Captain De Vries
is the seventh pilot in the world and the first European to cross the 5,000-hour mark in an F-16
. Only six American pilots had crossed this symbolic milestone before him.
De Vries' record is a unique achievement as he has built up the 5,000 flying hours on F-16 during operational training missions and operational deployment abroad. De Vries is 48 years old and has been a member of the Belgian Air Force since 1990, where he flies with the 31st "Tigers" squadron
under the call sign "Vrieske".
Three other pilots will accompany “Vrieske” on his record flight on Friday. All four together flew more than 16,000 hours on F-16, which is also unique in the world.
The now retired Belgian pilot Cdt. Jean-Marie "Toutou" Toussaint
was the first F-16 pilot in the world surpass the 3K mark. He reached this on October 21, 1992, only four years after he surpassed the 2,000 milestone.
List of the Belgian Air Force pilots
List with the pilots who reached the 5,000-hour mark
List of all aircraft assigned to the 31st "Tigers" Squadron