Monday, March 28, 2011

188th vice commander honored in ceremonial fini-flight

This news article has been published in "The Flying Razorback", official newspaper of the 188th Fighter Wing (Arkansas Air National Guard), Fort Smith, Arkansas, April 2011 public online PDF issue, probably released today.

Col. Bradley Peterson waves to his family before taxiing off the flightline before his final flight with the 188th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sgt. Stephen Hornsey) Full size

Note: Col. Bradley Peterson in the cockpit of A-10C 78-0638.

By Airman 1st Class John Hillier
188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The military aviation community has a long-standing tradition, almost as old as the community itself, of honoring a servicemember upon his or her final flight, or "fini-flight." The pilot's aircraft is welcomed with a cascade of water from fire trucks, and the pilot himself is greeted with a shower of water and champagne from friends and family. On March 6, the 188th welcomed its wing vice commander, Col. Bradley E. Peterson, back to Earth one last time in accordance with this time-honored tradition.

On hand to participate in the occasion were Peterson's wife and two children, as well as fellow pilots and several 188th Airmen from various specialties.

Peterson, who is scheduled to step down as the 188th wing vice commander later this year, spent almost 20 years flying F-16 Falcons and made the transition to A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthogs" with the 188th in 2007. Peterson joined the 188th in 1993,
and was named the wing vice commander in 2008. Peterson served as the 188th Operations Group commander prior to his role as the wing's vice commander.

Recounting his memories with the 188th, Peterson said his favorites were deployments, especially his most recent one in 2005 to Balad Air Base, Iraq, where the unit supported Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"It's been a great career, and a great family experience, too," Peterson said.

For his fini-flight, Peterson flew two sorties with a hot-pit refuel in between, which is unusual, said his wingman for the flight, Col. Thomas I. Anderson, the 188th wing commander.

Even while soaking wet from his ceremonial dousing, Peterson was all smiles with his family afterwards. Peterson said he plans to spend more time with his wife, and travel more often to his children's college events. Peterson said he will also have more time to devote to his civilian job in the flight operations management for United Airlines.

"I have certainly enjoyed serving with him," Anderson said. "He is the model for 'service before self.' He is always concerned with what's best for the unit without regard for himself. He set the standard for that. There are some big shoes to fill."


Official bio of Colonel Bradley E. "Brad" Peterson

Colonel Brad Peterson is the vice wing commander, 188th Fighter Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard, located at Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith, Ark. He assumed his current position in June 2008.

Colonel Peterson is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He graduated with a bachelors degree in aeronautical engineering in 1985. He earned his wings in June 1986 at Vance Air Force Base, where he was a distinguished graduate.

Upon completion of pilot training, he was assigned to MacDill AFB, Fla., where he completed F-16 initial qualification training. He reported for his first operational tour in the F-16 with the 309th "Wild Ducks" at Homestead AFB, Fla. In December 1989, Col. Peterson was reassigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron, "The Juvats," at Kunsan AB, South Korea.

Colonel Peterson was next assigned to the 85th Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin AFB, Fla. While there, he served as an operational test pilot and engineer, developing future weapon systems and aircraft enhancements for the F-16 block 30/40/50. Colonel Peterson is a graduate of the United States Air Force F-16 Fighter Weapons Instructor Course. He completed Air War College in 2004.

After 12 years on active duty, Col. Peterson joined the Arkansas Air National Guard as a pilot with the "Flying Razorbacks." He has served as an instructor pilot, chief of weapons and tactics, chief of standards and evaluations, 188th Operations Support Squadron commander, F-16 fighter squadron commander, 188th Operations Group commander.

A command pilot, Col. Peterson has logged over 2,900 hours in the F-16. Colonel Peterson has conducted combat and combat support operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Southern Watch and Operation Noble Eagle. He has also flown in combat operations in South Korea, Bosnia and Kuwait. While a traditional Guardsman, Col. Peterson is an airline captain and instructor pilot. Colonel Peterson has logged over 8,000 hours flight hours in both fighter and transport aircraft.

1985 Bachelor of Science degree, Aeronautical Engineering, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado
1995 U.S.A.F Fighter Weapons Instructor Course
1996 Air Command and Staff
2004 Air War College


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