Eglin F-15 reaches 6,000 flying hours
Released: 15 Jan 1999
by Capt. Jill Whitesell
33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) -- The 33rd Fighter Wing here closed out 1998 with one last milestone for the history books, as one of its F-15D Eagles became the first Air Force F-15 to reach 6,000 flying hours Dec. 16.
First Lt. Brian Baldwin -- one of the youngest pilots in the 58th Fighter Squadron -- flew the jet, which is one of the oldest Eagles in the wing's fleet.
"I didn't view this flight as any different," said Baldwin. "When we landed, I didn't expect to see such a big crowd awaiting our arrival -- that was pretty cool."
While reaching 6,000 hours is a notable accomplishment, it also highlights the age of the nearly-20-year-old F-15.
"When the F-15 came along, it was a world-beater. It was better than anything else in the world, and it showed," Gen. Dick Hawley, Air Combat Command commander, said recently. "We've yet to lose an F-15 in air-to-air combat, and it's racked up countless kills. Although the F-15 has an unparalleled history, Hawley said, "that situation won't hold forever, so we need to replace it," with the F-22.
Aircraft maintainers said maintenance becomes much more involved with 18-year-old jets. Senior Master Sgt. Greg Sullivan, 58th FS senior production superintendent, said it takes twice as long and twice as many maintainers to keep the older aircraft in the air.
"As soon as the squadron set a date for the jet to surpass its 6,000 flying hour, the jet did not want to fly," said Sullivan. "The night before it was to crest this milestone, crews were working on it into all hours of the night fixing a fuel leak. In the morning, they towed it onto the flight line and it still wouldn't start. It was a lot of work, but at least we got it fixed in time," he said.
The jet, tail number 80-0058, came to Eglin in September 1998 from the 3rd Wing, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. It has traveled around the world, going as far as Singapore and Turkey on deployments. (Courtesy of ACC News Service)