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43rd FS sets flying record

September 26, 2012 (by SSgt. Kirsten Wicker) - Tyndall's 43rd Fighter Squadron set a new flying record September 24, accomplishing 53 local sorties in one day.

"We more than doubled the normal amount of flights which averages from 18 to 24 per day," said Lt. Col. James Akers, 43rd FS operations officer. "The previous daily record the 43rd FS flew at Tyndall in one day was 24, so flying 53 in one day is a huge accomplishment for our hard-working pilots and maintenance professionals."

The "surge" began in the morning, launching roughly three sets of ten F-22s in the morning and three sets of eight in the afternoon. Pilots would fly, land, and taxi to a "hot pit" to refuel, then resume flying.

A hot pit is a method used by maintenance Airmen to accomplish refueling and other maintenance tasks faster and more efficiently.

"A hot pit is basically a method of evaluating the safety and maintenance needs of a jet returning from flight. We refuel and perform any other maintenance while the engines continue to run," said Senior Master Sgt. Bill Phreaner, 325th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 43rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit assistant superintendent. "The pilot will taxi in, and two Airmen will check it for safety, and then direct it to the hot pit area. A fuel truck awaits the jet in the pit and it is the Airmen's job to keep them flowing through and get them back in the air as quickly as possible."

With several instructor pilots in danger of becoming noncurrent due to delays and cancellations throughout the year, the 43rd's increased sortie efforts served to ensure instructor pilots' currency and proficiency were met before the end of the fiscal year in October.

"We did not have any students fly yesterday; it was strictly a day set aside for instructors to obtain flying hours and currency," Colonel Akers said. "It also proved just how well our maintenance crews can operate and keep jets flying under a busy schedule."

Conducting that many sorties in a single day may seem like a daunting task, but 325th MXS Airmen were up to the challenge.

"It was accomplished about as flawlessly as could be considering the number of sorties we flew," Sergeant Phreaner said. "Getting them [F-22s] refueled, perform any inspections and maintenance in only about a three-hour window, before they're ready to fly again is challenging when you have that many but our crews were just awesome.

"It took the entire aircraft maintenance unit to get the job done," he said. "And the fuel truck drivers did a great job having everything set up and ready to go when the jets arrived each time."

Aircrews completed a 13-hour day with no mishaps and set a record that Tyndall and the F-22 community can be proud of.

"The previous record by one F-22 fighter squadron in the Air Force was 46 sorties in one day," said Colonel Akers. "If that's true, we smashed it and that is certainly something to be proud of."

Courtesy of 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

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    Additional images:

    USAF F-22A block 10 no. 00-4013 from the 43rd FS takes off after a four-month stand down at Tyndall AFB on September 21st, 2011. [USAF photo by Lisa Norman]