A U.S. Air Force F-22 pilot with the 94th Fighter Squadron, who goes by the call sign “Maj. Ogre,” exits his aircraft at Al Dhafra Air Base and he is immediately greeted by a large, eager crowd of his peers. They came to greet him and pay tribute to a large milestone in his career, 1,000 hours of flight.
Ogre walks toward the excited crowd, posing for photos as a circle of his friends and peers form around him. He’s wearing a giant smile on his face as he’s being congratulated, shaking the hands of those who came to share this moment. Within the crowd, someone places a military patch onto the Velcro fabric of his flight suit. The patch is an F-22 aircraft with the words ’1,000 hours of flight.’ From the crowd, another award is presented to him. It’s a wooden plaque commemorating his achievement.
The F-22 community is seeing a wave of seasoned pilots reach 1,000 hours for the first time in over 10 years; and this year at least three more F-22 pilots within the 94th Fighter Squadron are expected to break this feat.
In the flying world, piloting an F-22 is a small community. “Until recently, there had been more people that have gone into outer-space than there are pilots that have flown the F-22,” said Capt. Maddog, a 94th Fighter Squadron F-22 Pilot.
Ogre is one of the three pilots from the 94th FS stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base who have amassed 1,000 hours of flight within a month of each other. The other F-22 pilot, and the first to reach the milestone, goes by the call sign “Lt. Col. Magma.” Additionally, another pilot who goes by the call sign “Lt. Col. Scrappy” has also reached this milestone.
The 94th Fighter Squadron has projected at least two more F-22 pilots will also reach this significant milestone within the next few months.
“These pilots have been in the aircraft for over a decade and they are a part of the original cadre of pilots who came up with the F-22, making the aircraft what it is. They have gone through a full spectrum of training with hundreds of sorties and amassing several hundreds of hours of flight,” said Maddog.
Both Magma and Ogre recorded their first flying hours inside a U.S. F-15C before transferring into the F-22. Since transferring aircraft, both pilots averaged over 120 combat hours while stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base. Combined with training and local sorties back home, both pilots have completed 1,000 flying hours each.
“When you reach a level like these pilots have; when you are a senior leader and a 1,000 hour pilot, that means you’ve put in at least 10 years of flying. That’s a huge investment on behalf of the U.S. Air Force,” said Maddog. “These pilots represent an invaluable resource when it comes to the knowledge and experience to the aircraft.”
Source: 380th Air Expeditionary Wing / Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Carzis