JOE FOSS Field, S.D. --
The 114th Fighter Wing reached 4000 flying hours for the 2017 fiscal year on Sept. 29, 2017. This wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of the Airmen of the 114th Maintenance Group for keeping up with scheduled maintenance and unforeseen issues to ensure the 114th Fighter Wing’s F-16s are mission ready.
This feat has only been accomplished twice by the 114th Fighter Wing since acquiring the F-16 in 1991, the first time in 2004.
“We have flown more than 4000 hours numerous times since we began flying the F-16, but not solely in support of the Annual Flying Hour Program.” said Lt. Col. Kevin Curley, 114th Maintenance Group commander.
The Air National Guard’s Flying Hour Program allocates flying hours for pilots at each wing to complete and maintain required training, but it does not include overseas or contingency operation flights. Each unit is given the responsibility to plan, schedule, and execute their allotted annual flying hours.
The 114th Operations and Maintenance Groups develop an annual flying hour plan. It is broken down monthly by number of flights and flying hours required to train pilots. Both groups have built a relationship based on trust and years of working together. They communicate each group’s priorities, limitations, and issues that might arise.
The amount and types of training required for pilots have increased due to new technology and capabilities of the F-16, but it has also put a strain on the aging F-16s. The 114th Fighter Wing F-16s currently requires 33 maintenance man-hours per flying-hour which includes preventative maintenance inspections.
“We have well trained pilots ready to execute the 114th Fighter Wing’s combat tasking because our maintenance Airmen provide reliable, mission capable aircraft.” said Col. Quenten Esser, 114th Operations Group commander.
While some inspections and maintenance are planned, unforeseen maintenance issues do occur. As the aircraft continue to age, maintenance efforts must be increased. Low parts availability is also an issue. Even with these issues, the 114th Maintenance Group Airmen are always able to provide mission-ready aircraft.
“Our maintenance group Airmen has the perfect mixture of experience, knowledge, and work ethic to handle this work load. This shows not only at home with our execution of the flying hours, but every time we deploy. They stand apart from other maintenance groups.” said Esser.
The Airmen of the 114th Maintenance Group are prideful of their work in meeting the mission’s requirements. Tech data compliance, sound leadership, and a well-organized plan aides in accomplishing the Air Force’s mission.
“I could not be prouder of the dedicated men and women of the 114th Maintenance Group for the excellent work they do every day.” said Curley.