Tag Archives: Blog

“Hometown Hero” flight during AF Week Salt Lake City

There’s more to the mission of the Air Force Thunderbirds than performance, precision and indescribable skill.  Recruitment and retention are at the core of their operation, and with that comes participation in the community as well.

While the Thunderbirds are the center of attention at air shows, they like to share the spotlight with citizens of the communities that support them through their “Hometown Heroes” program. Ogden-area resident Megan Funk was one such local hero to be honored by the Thunderbirds team during Air Force Week Salt Lake City June 4.

Megan recently completed her first year as a second grade teacher. It’s early in her career as an educator, but she’s been around long enough to provide infinite life lessons to her seven- and eight-year-old students, namely “teaching young kids about giving to others.” It was this theme that brought Megan into the back seat of Thunderbird #7.

While the media hype may surround the Thunderbirds the moment they land, this particular flight was to recognize Megan as a Hometown Hero.

“You run the ride,” Thunderbird #7, “Taz,” told Megan before he briefed her on what to expect during her F-16 flight. Their signature diamond formation, the delta, rolls, turns and pulling Gs… she would experience it all.

“You’ll do what everyone will see this weekend,” he said.

Like his fellow pilots, Taz boasts an impressive flying resume, illustrated by a few notable numbers. His flying career started with the F-15 in Japan and Florida, and his F-16 career followed in Nevada where he flew with the National Guard. Taz’ flight times are no small feat: he has spent over 1500 hours in F-15 and 700 hours in the F-16.

An amusing connection was made between pilot and copilot during their pre-flight briefing, Megan mentioned that her and her husband, Curtis, had their first viewing of Top Gun the night before her flight. Taz smiled and reminisced that Top Gun was the movie he took his wife to on their first date in 1986. Megan was born just one year prior.

The Thunderbirds’ aircraft are the most mission-capable, mechanically-sound F-16s in the fleet. The maintainers and support crew are the cream of the crop: they are perfectionists in all they do, from their support to their sharp uniforms. They are primo representatives of who we are as a United States Air Force, supporting a vast mission through excellence in all they do.

Thanks to 2nd Lt. Shannon Laubenthal for writing this post and Alex Lloyd for providing the photos.

Airmen with LASIK vision correction can transfer to Reserve, Guard

This week, we have another success story from the Air Force Continuum of Service (CoS) initiative (watch our video for more information).  LASIK corrective eye surgery is a common procedure that thousands of people undergo each year, including Airmen.  In May 2007, the Air Force lifted a ban thus allowing Airmen who received LASIK vision correction to fly high-performance aircraft.

Now, another barrier has been lifted!

The CoS program successfully completed an initiative allowing Airmen who have had LASIK eye surgery to transfer from the regular component to the reserves. Previously, the policy was that individuals having LASIK surgery were not eligible to transfer to the reserve component, even if it was performed while on active duty.

On May 21, 2007, the Air Force began accepting applicants who had LASIK surgery into flight training and navigator training.  This initiative clears the way for experienced Airmen to move to the Guard and Reserves and is one less barrier to moving between the regular and reserves components, allowing them to continue their career and service to the nation.

Help us help you – submit your issues and suggestions to the CoS Tracking Tool (access requires a .mil address and CAC card)!

Thanks to SAF/MR – Manpower and Reserve Affairs for sending this post.

NY Times OpEd missed the mark

We normally don’t respond one way or another what opinions come out in the OpEd pages regarding the Air Force, but this one really missed the mark and we offer a few counterpoints to the New York Times readers. Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Norton Schwartz does a great job at explaining that the Air Force is engaged and is in the fight.

To the Editor:
“Up, Up and Out,” by Paul Kane (Op-Ed, April 21), recommends disbanding the Air Force because of vague claims that ours is a redundant service and apparently not at war.

Mr. Kane’s conclusion dismisses more than 71 percent of the 330,000 active-duty Airmen who, along with their Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve teammates, have deployed since 2001. These warriors directly execute and support combat operations, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In that period, 45 Airmen have been killed in combat and more than 500 wounded. The Air Force routinely responds rapidly to urgent calls from ground forces in dire circumstances — with the unrivaled combat precision and reliability Airmen routinely bring to bear.

Our Airmen prove their worth and commitment in distinctive service that prevents war and reduces the cost of conflict in American blood and treasure. We have done so faithfully in every conflict since our inception.

Today’s Air Force brings specific capabilities to the joint fight to defend the homeland, deter aggression, help those in need and defend the freedoms we all enjoy. This resonates with the American people because they recognize the vital importance of Air Force global vigilance, reach and power.

We proudly secure our nation’s skies and our sister services from attack, any time and any place. Airmen will be there when America needs them, and every serving member of the Army, the Navy and the Marines knows it.

(Gen.) Norton A. Schwartz
Air Force Chief of Staff
Washington, April 21, 2009

We own the sky — hands down. We (joint DOD) bring more coordinated force than anyother nation in the world should our nation decide to. There is no other force in the world capable of striking a target anywhere on the globe in such a short amount of time.

Looking at the opinion piece in the NY Times, take a look at Quatto and his counter: “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

Air Force in upcoming HBO flick ‘Taking Chance’ with Kevin Bacon

Airmen will appear in HBO’s upcoming “Taking Chance” with Kevin Bacon. Click here to watch a two-minute sneak peak.  The HBO film should premier mid-January at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT.  HBO will broadcast the movie in February on HBO. The clip includes brief interior and exterior scenes of a C-17 with assistance from personnel from the Dover AFB, DE. Mortuary Affairs offices. Check out the story from Blackfive.