F-16 Reference

309th Fighter Squadron ( USAF AETC)

" Wild Ducks"  

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309 FS " Wild Ducks" ( USAF AETC)
Version: F-16C/D block 42
Role: Training
Tailband: Blue & White
Motto: Mad Mallards From Hell
Badge: N/A

Sideways profile for the 309th FS in 2009 with the unit marking on the tail.

F-16 History

Origin of the squadron goes back to 1942. The squadrons well known emblem is a 1944 Walt Disney production copyrighted design specifically made for the squadron. Thus begun the history of a squadron that produced 14 aces over its early years, and totaling 161 kills.

Startingin 1986, the 309th began to convert from the F-4 to the F-16A/B at Homestead AFB, Florida. On October 1st, 1986 the 309th was redesignated from Tactical Fighter Training Squadron to the Tactical Fighter Squadron. Years later in 1990, plans were made to convert to block 25s, but this never materialized and after the war in Iraq and base realignments it was decided to make the 31st TFW a block 40 wing with conversion starting in 1991. The last F-16A/B flight under the 31st TFW happened in mid 1991 by the 309th TFS. During restructuring, the 'Wild Ducks' became the 309th Fighter Squadron on November 1st, 1991 and conversion to the block 40 was complete by early 1992.

August of 1992 became an interesting month for the 309th Fighter Squadron's parent unit, the 31st FW. Hurricane season brought some destructive weather to Florida with the worst culminating in Huricane Andrew. With enough warning the 309th FS departed Homestead AFB on August 23rd for Shaw AFB. Sister squadrons - the 307th and 308th - went to Moody AFB, Georgia. This was to be a temporary move and even President George Bush himself promised that Homestead AFB would be rebuilt. Although Homestead AFB was semi-rebuilt with the AFRes 93rd FS returning, the active duty squadrons - including the 309th - never returned. Starting on October 1st, 1992 the 309th FS became assigned to Shaw’s 363rd FW. When Shaw AFB began converting to the block 50 in 1993, even the 309th FS was involved receiving many examples. Although the squadron began converting to the block 50, it was short lived. The 20th FW in Upper Heyford, England inactivated and moved its Wing and associate squadrons to Shaw AFB. On December 31st, 1993 the 363rd FW disbanded and the same day the 309th FS inactivated.

USAF F-16A block 15 #82-1004 of the 309th TFS 'Wild Ducks' is staionned on the appron at Homestead AFB, Florida. It was transferred to Portugal in 1999 as #15131. [Photo by Mike Kopack]

Plans were already in the works which involved moving the 309th Fighter Squadron to Luke AFB, Arizona where it would continue its heritage, this time as a training squadron under the 56th FW. On April 1st, 1994 the 309th FS activated at Luke AFB with the block 25 version of the Viper.

Beginning a new chapter for the 309th FS, they began to convert to the block 42s which would be supplied by the closing of the 63rd FS on May 22nd of 2009. First block 42 to arrive with the 309th was F-16C #88-0412 on June 8th, 2009. The block 25s will either go to other units or to retirement in the boneyard depending on airframes condition.

Training at Luke the 309th runs a standard pilot training syllabus that prepares pilots and ground crew for active duty units. The 309th's mission statement is 'Training the world's finest fighter pilots and maintenance technicians.'

During March of 2014 aircraft #89-2103 was taken from the 309th FS and moved to Holloman AFB, New Mexico and marked with boss markings for the 54th Fighter Group. The newly formed 54th Fighter Group will activate the 311th Fighter Squadron and continue advanced F-16 pilot training. Three more aircraft departed the 309th FS for Holloman's newly formed squadron. During May of 2014 the squadron stood down for a short period of time and all remaining block 42s were temporarily assigned to the 308th Fighter Squadron until they could be redistributed. In a ceremony that closed the 62nd Fighter Squadron on July 3, 2014 the 309th Fighter Squadron stood-up again with the block 25s from the former 62nd FS (essentially changing flags). At that point the 309th Fighter Squadron was the only block 25 operator at Luke AFB.

With the conversion of the 310th FS, the 309th FS received their more advanced block 42 F-16 from July 2022 onwards. Their block 25's were flown to AMARG being the last operational squadron to fly those block of F-16s (except for some agressor units at Nellis).

USAF F-16D block 25 #83-1181 from the 309th FS is flying by on August 14th, 2006 at Luke AFB. Note the front seat pilot's head is cranked looking aft. [Photo by Jason Hyatt]

Aircraft Markings History

1986 - 1992

The tail band is dark blue with a white trim and a large white block lettering 'WILD DUCKS.' The tail code was 'HS' which stands for Homestead. For a very short period of time, some aircraft wore the 'ZF' tail code at Homestead. This was dropped shortly after the squadron activated with the F-16.

1992 - 1994

After the move to Shaw AFB the tail band stayed the same, only the tail code converted to 'SW'.

1994 - present

With the obvious switch to the 'LF' tail code there was also a slight change to the tail band. Still a dark blue with white boarder, the white text changed to smaller cursive text. In some exemples there is a white star on the trailing edge of the band.

Unit History

  • 1942: Activation of the squadron in Baer Field, Indiana
  • 1942: P-40B 'Warhawk' (part of 31 FG)
  • 1942: P-39 'Airacobra' (New Orleans AAB, Louisiana)
  • 1942: 'Spitfire' Mk. VB (RAF High Ercall)
  • 1942: 'Spitfire' Mk. VB (RAF Westhampnett)
  • 1942: 'Spitfire' Mk. VB (Tafaraoui Field [Alg.])
  • 1942: 'Spitfire' Mk. VB (La Senia Field [Alg.])
  • 1943: 'Spitfire' Mk. VB (Thelepte Field [Tun.])
  • 1943: 'Spitfire' Mk. VB (Tebessa Field [Alg.])
  • 1943: 'Spitfire' Mk. VB (Youks-les-Bains Field [Alg.])
  • 1943: P-51B 'Mustang' (Kalaa Djerda Field [Tun.])
  • 1943: P-51B 'Mustang' (Djilma Field [Tun.])
  • 1943: P-51B 'Mustang' (Le Sers Field [Tun.])
  • 1943: P-51B 'Mustang' (Korba Field [Tun.])
  • 1943: P-51D 'Mustang' (Gozo Field [Malta])
  • 1943: P-51D 'Mustang' (Ponte Olivo Field [It.])
  • 1943: P-51D 'Mustang' (Agrigento Field [It.])
  • 1943: P-51D 'Mustang' (Termini Emerese Field [It.])
  • 1943: P-51D 'Mustang' (Milazzo Field [It.])
  • 1943: P-51D 'Mustang' (Montecorvino Field [It.])
  • 1943: P-51D 'Mustang' (Pomigliano Field [It.])
  • 1944: P-51D 'Mustang' (Castel Volturno Field [It.])
  • 1944: P-51D 'Mustang' (San Severo Field [It.])
  • 1945: P-51D 'Mustang' (Mondolfo Field [It.])
  • 1945: P-51D 'Mustang' (Triolo Field [It.])
  • 1945: P-51D 'Mustang' (Drew Field, Florida)
  • 1946: P-80A 'Shooting Star' (part of 31 TTW, Giebelstadt Field [Germ.])
  • 1946: P-80A 'Shooting Star' (Kitzingen Field [Germ.])
  • 1947: P-51D 'Mustang'
  • 1947: P-51D 'Mustang' (Langley Field, Virginia)
  • 1947: P-51D 'Mustang' (Turner AFB, Georgia)
  • 1948: F-84C 'Thunderjet'
  • 1949: F-84E 'Thunderjet'
  • 1952: F-84G 'Thunderjet'
  • 1957: F-100 'Super Sabre'
  • 1959: F-100 'Super Sabre' (George AFB, California)
  • 1962: F-100 'Super Sabre' (Homestead AFB, Florida)
  • 1966: F-100 'Super Sabre' (part of 31 TFW, Tuy Hoa AFB [Vietn.])
  • 1970: F-4E 'Phantom II' (part of 4403 FW, England AFB, Louisiana)
  • 1970: F-4E 'Phantom II' (part of 31 FW, Homestead AFB, Florida)
  • 1980: F-4D 'Phantom II'
  • 1986: F-16A/B 'Fighting Falcon'
  • 1991: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon'
  • 1992: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon' (part of 363 FW, Shaw AFB, South Carolina)
  • 1994: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon' (part of 56 FW, Luke AFB, Arizona)

F-16 Airframe Inventory


Errors and Omissions
Jul 17, 2022 - 06:54 AM
aircraft movement

all block 25s will have left for the boneyard by late october of 2022, being replaced by the 310th (tophats) block 42s sporting ducks flagging. the 310th are to be converted into an F35 unit by late 2023

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