Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oregon Air Guard pilot surpasses 4,000 flying hours in F-15 fighter

Col. James Miller, Wing Commander for the 173rd Fighter Wing, in Klamath Falls, Ore., displays his 4,000 Hour Eagle patch after surpassing 4,000 flight hours in the F-15 Eagle during a training mission at Gowen Field, Idaho, May 5. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Barney)

GOWEN FIELD, Idaho – An Oregon Air National Guard pilot became the third person ever to surpass 4,000 flying hours in the F-15 Eagle, May 5.

Col. James Miller, Wing Commander of the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore., reached the milestone in the U.S. Air Force’s premier strike fighter while participating in a training mission at Gowen Field, Idaho.

There are only two others who piloted the F-15 Eagle beyond the 4,000-hour mark; Col. Rich Kelly, also from Kingsley Field, and Col. Jon Kelk of Lambert Field, St. Louis, Mo.

“It’s pretty good company to be with,” Miller said about Kelly and Kelk.
173rd Fighter Wing instructor pilot, Lt. Col. Chris Casson, gives Col. James Miller, unit Wing Commander, a traditional pilot's congratulations, following a training mission where Miller reached 4,000 flight hours in the F-15 Eagle, May 5, at Gowen Field, Idaho. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Barney)

Miller has been flying the F-15 since 1990. He has also flown the T-37 Tweet during pilot training, and has more than 5,000 hours in both the T-37 and F-15 combined. He downplayed the accomplishment, and instead pointed to other pilots’ flight time on various missions.

“I like to think that there are some guys who have a thousand hours, and there are some guys who have one hour a thousand times,” Miller said.

“In my case, I have one hour 4,000 times,” Miller added. “It is definitely a privilege to have been able to fly this airplane this long.”

Miller has flown the F-15 for 19 of his 25 years as a pilot.

The milestone aside, Miller said he enjoys flying and instructing other F-15 pilots.

“I appreciate being able to do my part in producing the world’s finest air-to-air combat pilot graduates,” Miller said. “I’m very fortunate to have had a career allowing me to fly and instruct in the F-15 Eagle.”

Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing are conducting training missions at the Idaho facility while the main runway at Kingsley Field undergoes construction. Dubbed “Sentry Displacement”, the project will be completed in about six months.

The Oregon Air National Guard consists of two fighter wings; both the 142nd Fighter Wing in Portland, as well as the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls.

The 142nd Fighter Wing conducts the air sovereignty mission over the Northwest sector of the United States, while the 173rd Fighter Wing is one of two active duty U.S. Air Force F-15 schoolhouses in the nation.

Story by Master Sgt. Jerry Bynum,
173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office

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