Friday, January 6, 2012
A-10 pilot surpasses 1,000 combat hours flown
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Capt. "Rudy," an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot with the 107th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, surpassed 1,000 combat flying hours in support combat operations in Afghanistan and eclipsed more than 2,000 total flying hours during this deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Carbajal) Hi-res
by Staff Sgt. David Carbajal
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
1/6/2012 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- (Editor's note: The name of "Captain Rudy" is being held for security and safety reasons.)
At a typical deployment, leaders will encourage you to "make every second count." One pilot here has done just that. In fact, he's made more than three million seconds count.
Capt. "Rudy," an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot with the 107th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, surpassed 1,000 combat flying hours in support combat operations in Afghanistan and eclipsed more than 2,000 total flying hours during this deployment.
"This is a milestone rarely achieved for a fighter pilot," said Lt. Col. Joshua Ruddell, 107th EFS assistant director of operations. "This equates to being in a combat flying deployment for roughly two years."
He is completing his second deployment to Kandahar Airfield and his fourth overall.
However, this combat-hours milestone was not one of his goals.
"I didn't even know I reached the 1,000 combat hour point until I saw guys from the squadron arriving at my aircraft parking spot after I landed," Rudy said. "I wouldn't trade the experiences I've gained protecting our soldiers on the ground and the strong friendships I have made with squadron mates throughout my deployments."
But this mark comes at a price, he said.
"It also means I've spent about two years away from my wife and missed a lot of birthdays and anniversaries," Rudy said.
An Austin, Texas, native, he is currently assigned to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
"Reaching 1,000 combat hours is honestly not an important milestone to me," he said. After all, it's really just a number. Nothing special happened to me when I reached that point. I didn't get smarter, didn't instantly become a better pilot."
"What's important to me is I've spent 1,000 hours in the air doing my best to make sure the guys on the ground can go home safely to their families," Rudy added. "If just five minutes of that time was enough to give a family a chance to see their father or son again then for me every second was worth it."
"Overall it has been a bittersweet experience but one that I am proud of and it's something that I will remember for the rest of my life."
Beyond his seldom-reached milestone, he is seen as much more than a pilot in his squadron, said Ruddell.
"He is an exceptional instructor pilot and strives to make every pilot he flies with better," said Ruddell. "Whether it's on the ground or in the air, he is constantly improving the quality of our pilots' flying skills."
Please note: According to this official USAF source, Captain "Rudy" is deployed from the 81st Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Wing (USAFE), Spangdahlem AB, Germany, to be part of the currently combat-deployed "Total Force" A-10C team.