Friday, November 30, 2012

442nd Fighter Wing Holiday Greeting Card Contest

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

On their official Facebook page 442nd Fighter Wing started a holiday greeting card contest October 31, 2012. But there were only four to choose from. And here's the winning entry by Tech. Sgt. Chris Barton, presented November 13, 2012:

Full size

357th FS bombing competition - 'Haboob Havoc'

by Airman 1st Class Christine Griffiths
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/30/2012 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Three U.S. Air Force pilots from the 357th Fighter Squadron, competed in a bombing competition Nov. 16, and won Top Team, as well as various other awards while there.

The event, 'Haboob Havoc,' was hosted by the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Nine different squadrons from around the western U.S. competed. The 357 FS pilots were the only A-10 unit in attendance.

"It's an inter-airframe, inter-base bombing competition," said Maj. Eric Fleming, 357 FS Chief of Standardization and Evaluation. "This year F-16s, F-15Es and A-10s took part.

The competition was held on the Barry M. Goldwater training complex. It's a bombing competition between all of the squadrons to see which teams can do the best at shooting the guns and dropping bombs."

"Each team was comprised of four aircraft competing in three bombing events and one strafe event. The bombing events included a 45 degree high altitude dive bomb, 20 degree low-angle low drags, and 10 degree low-angle high drags," Fleming said. "Each aircraft dropped two bombs per event, for a total of six bombs per aircraft. The high angle strafe competition included two gun passes per aircraft on a scorable target."

The competition lasted approximately 25 minutes per team on range. Scores were then broken down for each individual, as well as for each team. There were awards for best individual and best team in each event, as well as overall.

"We definitely put forward a good team that performed well in every category," Fleming said. "Major Benda had the best scores in our flight for two bombing events, I had the best scores in the 20 Low Angle Low Drag event, and Capt. Cotman had the best scores for strafe. Our fourth team member, Capt. Brian Hellesto, had a system issue during takeoff, and did not make it to the range. We had a good performance and the team won first place despite only having three participants."

Not only did the 357 FS win best overall team during the 'Haboob Havoc' competition, but the squadron did just as well this past August during their Hawgsmoke A-10 Competition, where they defeated 15 other A-10 teams to win best overall A-10 squadron.

"We have a great group of instructors here at the 357th Fighter Squadron," said Maj. Richard Benda, 357 FS Assistant Director of Operations. "We validated that by winning Hawgsmoke in August, and re-validated our training at Haboob Havoc. It just goes to show that we were the best A-10 squadron during Hawgsmoke, and now the best airframe on this particular day amongst that large group."

The 357th received:
- Best overall team
- Best team for high angle strafe

Major Benda received:
- Best individual 10 low angle high drag
- Best overall competitor


Please note: 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs is now in the process to upload a related photo on the wing's public website. This picture will be added on Warthog News soon.

Update December 1, 2012

And here's the picture, unfortunately not in best quality:

U.S. Air Force pilots from the 357th Fighter Squadron pose for a photo with awards won after the bombing competition 'Haboob Havoc' at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The team was the only A-10 unit who attended the competition and won best overall team. (Courtesy photo)

Note: Meanwhile, this article's headline has been changed to "357th Fighter Squadron wins the 56th Fighter Wing 2012 Turkey Shoot".

Question: Anybody who would be so kind to identify the four pilots on this picture? The third person from left (without any certificate) should be Capt. Brian Hellesto, who had a system issue during takeoff, and did not make it to the range.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A-10s recognized for saving soldiers' lives

by Staff Sgt. Danielle Johnston
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Col. James Mackey and Lt. Col. Anthony Roe met four soldiers for whom the A-10 saved their lives during a mission in Afghanistan in 2008. The soldiers, part of the Kentucky National Guard, traveled to Missouri to thank the pilots who flew the mission that day. The pilots are assigned to the 442nd Fighter Wing, an A-10 Thunderbolt II Air Force Reserve unit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lauren Padden) Hi-res

Note: Pictured is A-10C 79-0123 from the 303rd Fighter Squadron. Crew inscriptions: PILOT: CAPT LANCE ORR, CREW CHIEF: TSGT CHRIS BARTON, ASST. CREW CHIEF: SSGT STEVE SWARTSTROM.

11/29/2012 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- In November, five service members reunited. They were never stationed together, nor were they even in the same branch of service. But the event that united them was one that will never be forgotten.

It was 2008. Three hundred reservists from the 442nd Fighter Wing here were deployed to Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan. The A-10 Thunderbolt II unit had been called up to support Operation Enduring Freedom, something it had already done a few times post-9/11.

Col. James Mackey, the wing's vice commander, and Lt. Col. Anthony Roe, both A-10 pilots, were scheduled to provide close-air support to protect an Army convoy that day for a routine mission. However, after takeoff, the pilots were told they would not be needed. They were flying only a few minutes before they got a call over the radio.

"The (joint terminal attack controller) on the radio said, 'I'm not sure, but I think there might be some soldiers taking fire, can you check it out?'" Roe said.

Calling in the big guns

Communication was tough that day due to heavy radio traffic and interceptions - something the pilots and the Army soldiers would remember vividly for years to come. Army Sgt. Mauricio Arias said 17 soldiers in three vehicles had been driving along when they came under attack.

"We were surrounded, and they were firing at us from three sides," he said. "That's when one of our vehicles became disabled, and we knew we couldn't fit everyone into just two vehicles even if we wanted to."

At that point, the soldiers began using their radios to call for help. They were under attack for nearly 45 minutes before they received a response. A JTAC eight miles away finally heard them calling for help through a choppy, intercepted signal. That's when the JTAC called in the big guns.

As the A-10s approached, Roe was able to make radio contact with the soldiers, who gave him their coordinates. The sound of gunfire over the radio filled the A-10 cockpit - making it even more evident to the pilots that they move quickly and be incredibly accurate as they would be firing the A-10's 30-milimeter Gatling gun within 150 feet of the soldiers.

Roe recalls the difficulty of the mission.

"The soliders had set off a smoke grenade to show us their location, but the smoke was extremely close to friendly forces, so we had to be extremely careful," he said. "Normally we try not to get that close to friendly forces, especially without a JTAC to give us exact coordinates, but it quickly became an emergency close-air support mission."

The urgency was one that was felt both on and off the ground. "If the A-10s had arrived two or three-minutes - at most seven minutes later- we'd die," Arias recalls. "At that time, we were fighting and fighting, and we were running out of ammo."

A few days after the firefight, Arias met Roe. Though physically and mentally still in recovery, he offered all he could at the time - a sincere thank-you to the Reserve A-10 pilot who saved his life. In all, there were 17 soldiers on the ground that day. Some suffered minor injuries as a result of the firefight - but all made it out alive.

A daily battle

In 2011, Arias moved to Central Missouri and joined the Missouri National Guard. While exploring Whiteman AFB one day, he saw a plane that brought back a whirlwind of memories and emotions - the A-10. While he admits he doesn't know much about Air Force airplanes, he said he recognized the gun that saved his life.

"I had been dealing with that event from Afghanistan for three years at that point," Arias said. "When I saw that airplane, I didn't know if it was from the same unit who saved us in 2008, but it took me an entire year to build the courage to find out."

In August 2012, Arias walked past the A-10 static display through the front doors of the 303rd Fighter Squadron, part of the 442nd Fighter Wing here. Arias found out Mackey had already moved to a new assignment, and Roe was out of town.

Arias returned home that day and called his comrades back in Kentucky. Each of them encouraged him to return to the squadron and thank them - on behalf of the battalion. Arias returned a few weeks later. Mackey had heard the story and had flown from Hawaii to Missouri to meet Arias.

"This was a monumental mission in our lives also," Mackey said, "so when I heard Sergeant Arias wanted to meet us, I wasn't going to miss it."

Neither was a dozen A-10 maintainers who were on the 2008 deployment. Many of them had heard about the impromptu mission that day, and wanted to meet one of the soldiers from the battalion they had heard about.

Roe and Mackey showed Arias an up-close view of the A-10 - something that brought tears to Arias - who then spoke to a room full of Reserve maintainers. Most of his audience were reservists who were in Afghanistan and helped launch the jets for the mission that saved his life.

"I think about that day a lot," Arias told them. "Usually I think about how thankful I am for those two pilots. But today, I see it's not just about the pilots. Without all of you fixing and launching the Warthogs, I wouldn't be here today. I wouldn't be about to get married and able to see my daughter graduate. I would be dead, so thank you to each and every one of you for keeping me alive."

Healing the wounds

After his fellow soldiers heard about the healing Arias received by meeting the pilots, the maintainers and the Warthog, a few knew they needed the same.

So, in November three of the soldiers made the eight-hour drive from Kentucky to Missouri. Some of the soldiers have moved on to civilian life, they said, but many of them never fully healed from the events that occurred that day.

"I've dealt with anger for many years since that deployment," said Derek Stephens, one of the soldiers on the mission that day. "I've been angry, and I've grieved, but now I can finally be grateful."

The soldiers presented Roe and Mackey with a plaque and a flag flown in Afghanistan - something the pilots will hold onto closely.

Army Sgt. Mauricio Arias, a soldier formerly assigned to the Kentucky National Guard, presents a flag flown in Afghanistan to Col. James Mackey and Lt. Col. Anthony Roe, both A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots. Four soldiers visited the 442nd Fighter Wing, Nov. 17, 2012, to thank the pilots flying a mission in 2008 that saved their lives. The 442nd Fighter Wing is an Air Force Reserve unit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lauren Padden) Hi-res
Derek Stephens, a soldier formerly assigned to the Kentucky National Guard, presents a flag flown in Afghanistan to Lt. Col. Anthony Roe, A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot. Four soldiers visited the 442nd Fighter Wing, Nov. 17, 2012, to thank the pilots flying a mission in 2008 that saved their lives. The 442nd Fighter Wing is an Air Force Reserve unit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lauren Padden) Hi-res

A soldier from the Kentucky National Guard holds the shell of the round from an A-10 Thunderbolt II -- the aircraft that saved his life in Afghanistan in 2008. Four soldiers visited the 442nd Fighter Wing, Nov. 17, 2012, to thank the pilots flying the mission that saved their lives. The 442nd Fighter Wing is an Air Force Reserve unit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lauren Padden) Hi-res

Note: This shell with the inscription FIRED IN ANGER OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM EMERGENCY CAS JUNE 08 is hold atop page 9 of the newest A-10 book "A-10 Thunderbolt II: 21st Century Warthog" by Neil Dunridge, Reid Air Publications, 2012.

Source (including 4 photos)

Commentary: 2012 -- A year of success

by Brig. Gen. Eric S. Overturf, 442nd Fighter Wing Commander
(Released by 442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

11/28/2012 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- ' Tis the season to reflect on an incredibly successful 2012 for the 442nd Fighter Wing. We overcame every major obstacle and accomplished all our priorities for the year. You should be proud - I know I am!

We Supported Deployments by sending 421 of America's finest Airmen to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and many more Airmen to bases around the globe for annual training deployments.

We Prepared for Force Structure Changes with a site activation task force for the potential closure of the 917th Fighter Group at Barksdale AFB, La. - one of our geographically separated units. We don't know what the future holds for the 917th FG because Congress put a hold on all 2013 force structure actions. We did, however, lay the groundwork for implementing whatever plan Congress approves with an emphasis on taking care of our Airmen and families.

We Stood up our Active Association, and are working side-by-side with active-duty Airmen who have become an integral part of the 442nd Fighter Wing's combat capability. More than half of the 113 personnel assigned to Detachment 2 are already here, providing additional full-time manpower and sharing our knowledge and experience.

We Successfully Completed Inspections, with terrific feedback from our consolidated unit inspection at Whiteman and operational readiness inspection at Moody AFB, Ga. (home of the 476th Fighter Group - a 442nd GSU.) We're already off and running with a plan to resolve the key drivers that led to our unsatisfactory health services inspection.

Finally, we took time to Develop and Care for Airmen and their Families despite the hardships caused by budget cuts. We had help from supporters like the Whiteman Base Community Council who stepped up to assist our Airmen and families with a wing picnic that also served as a welcome home party for many of our deployed Airmen. The 442nd Human Resources Development Council and Operation Homefront worked together to provide a baby shower and Christmas store, as well as to educate our members and families on benefits and resources available to them at no or low cost. Most impressively, during every visit to wing units I saw individual Airmen going out of their way to take care of each other when help was needed.

When you put it all together, it's clear that your hard work in the pursuit of these individual priorities resulted in the success of our overall wing mission to Train and Deploy Combat-Ready Airmen. When our nation called on the 442nd Fighter Wing, you answered with ATTACK air power and expeditionary combat support, on time and on target.

You have earned a great holiday season this year, so please take the time to relax and enjoy the holiday events that are happening across the wing this drill weekend and throughout the month with your friends, families and local communities. Remember the holidays are not easy for some people, especially those who are away from their families, so share some holiday spirit and reach out if there is an Airmen in your shop who - whether active duty or Reserve - might be away from their families during this holiday time.

Thank you for all the hard work you've put in this year. Each of you plays an important part in the success of our unit and mission. Enjoy the holiday season and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Polish air force leaders visit Spangdahlem

Released by 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/29/2012 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – Polish air force Brig. Gen. Wlodzimierz Usarek, (left) 2nd Tactical Air Wing commander, studies an A-10 Thunderbolt II cockpit with U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Clinton Eichelberger, 81st Fighter Squadron commander from Annapolis, Md., on the flightline during a visit to Spangdahlem AB Nov. 27, 2012. Usarek was accompanied by Polish air force Brig. Gen. Tadeusz Mikutel, 1st Tactical Air Wing commander and Col. Kristian Ziec, 32nd Air Base commander during the tour around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gustavo Castillo) Hi-res

Source (including 4 photos)

WWE Superstar visits Barksdale

Released by 307th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

11/29/2012 - WWE's Smackdown Superstar Dolph Ziggler, checks out a 30mm round during a briefing on the capabilities of the A-10 Thunderbolt II by Staff Sgt. John Slade during a visit to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Nov. 27, 2012. WWE brought Smackdown to the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, La., Nov. 27, and Ziggler asked to come to Barksdale to meet with the "troops." Military members were invited to see the event free of charge. Slade is a dedicated crew chief assigned to the 917th Fighter Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeff Walston) Hi-res

Source (including 3 photos)

Note: Pictured is A-10C 78-0582 with fuselage art BOYLESS BAILEY from the 47th Fighter Squadron.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rare shot: "Raptor" meets "Warthog" at Lajes for first time

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

At Lajes Field, Azores, Warthog News contributor João Toste from Portugal had the opportunity to take the following rare shot:

F-22A Raptor 05-4084 from the 7th Fighter Squadron "Screamin' Demons", Holloman AFB, New Mexico (tail code "HO"), at Lajes Field November 1, 2012. Parked just behind is A-10C 78-0630 from the 184th Fighter Squadron, 188th Fighter Wing (Arkansas ANG), homebound from Afghanistan as part of an ANG "Rainbow Team", recently combat-deployed in support of Operation "Enduring Freedom". (Photo by João Toste) Full size

Note: Together with some more related F-22A pictures, João already posted this shot on

Update November 28, 2012

In a comment on my official Warthog News page on Facebook, Brian Cebula posted the following funny version:

Should we create A-10 comics??? Full size Question: Anybody who knows the "editor"?

Fighter pilot experiences in-flight emergency, lands safely

Posted on November 26, 2012 at 3:37 PM
Updated yesterday at 3:50 PM

The pilot of this A-10 Thunderbolt II successfully landed at the Boise airport after experiencing an in-flight emergency on Monday. (Credit: Paul Boehlke / KTVB)

BOISE -- An Idaho Air National Guard fighter jet made a successful landing at Gowen Field Monday after its landing gear reportedly became stuck while flying.

Colonel Tim Marsano said the single-seat A-10 aircraft was on a routine training mission when the in-flight emergency happened.

Ada County dispatchers say the pilot tried for approximately 45 minutes to shake the gear loose before successfully landing at approximately 3:20 p.m.

The A-10 is a close air support fighter that provides protection for ground forces.

The A-10 coasts with its landing gear down.


Note: The involved A-10C belongs to the 190th Fighter Squadron, 124th Fighter Wing (Idaho ANG), Boise.

81st Fighter Squadron flagship caught at Kleine Brogel November 21, 2012

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News editor

A-10C 81-0981, marked "81 FS" as flagship of the 81th Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Wing (USAFE), Spangdahlem AB, Germany, made two touch and go's at Kleine Brogel, Belgium, on November 21, 2012. Warthog News contributors Edwin Huskens and Toon Cox from Belgium had the opportunity to take the following shots.

A-10C 81-0981, marked "81 FS". (Photo by Edwin Huskens) Full size

A-10C 81-0981, marked "81 FS". (Photo by Edwin Huskens) Full size

A-10C 81-0981, marked "81 FS". (Photo by Toon Cox) Full size


Monday, November 26, 2012

Warthog pilot speaks to GHS students

By Special to the Democrat
Greenwood Democrat
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:16 PM CST

Greenwood graduates have put the Bulldog paw prints all over the world in their service within all branches of the military, 188th Fighter Wing Capt. William James "B.J." Ginger told students and their families Friday during the students' annual assembly honoring veterans.

Ginger, the event's guest speaker and an A10 Warthog pilot, is himself a 1997 graduate of Greenwood High School.

Returned just last month from several months of deployment to Afghanistan, Ginger appeared at the podium wearing his flight suit. In his 13 1/2 years in the Air National Guard, he said, he's been on several deployments and enjoyed them immensely. This most recent deployment was his busiest, he said, noting that he flew 69 missions.

"Man, it is good to be home, not just back on U.S. soil but back home in Greenwood, Ark., home of the Bulldogs!" Ginger said to hearty audience applause.

Event attendees included students, teachers, their families, dozens of veterans and active-service military, city and civic leaders. They were greeted upon arrival with salutes and respectful "good mornings" from Greenwood High School Junior ROTC cadets in full dress uniforms. The military attendees, many in dress uniform themselves, responded with salutes.

Songs about battle played in the background as people filed into the district's Performing Arts Center. The lobby and auditorium were replete with displays honoring active military and veterans dead and alive. Patriotic scenes played over two large video screens, and the stage featured an American flag backdrop.

The students themselves led the event.

The cadets opened with a presentation of colors. Student Taylor Wormwood led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance, and student Sarah Hocott belted out the national anthem.

Student Bethany Skaggs told the audience Veterans Day originated with Armistice Day.

"On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the (World War I) armistice was announced. Although the armistice didn't last, the day of honor remained and eventually became Veterans Day, honoring all U.S. veterans," Skaggs said.

The students honored local veterans by their decade of service, welcoming first the veterans of the 21st century. Four paraded across the stage, escorted by JROTC cadets. The veterans of the 1990s, 1980s, 1970s, 1960s, 1950s and 1940s were honored similarly, dozens in all.

Each decade's veterans were honored, too, with the playing of music contemporary to their service time, and a video clip of major events and leaders of those times, and details such as the artists, costs of living and technology of that decade. By the time the 11 local veterans of the 1980s paraded across the stage, the audience was clapping in cadence with the music and many were moving their feet in time to the music.

Student Morgan Kratts said the students spent months collecting photos of Greenwood veterans for a veterans video played for the audience. It began with a May 1, 1917, photo of a town square celebration honoring the Greenwood men then leaving to serve in World War I. It ended to lengthy audience applause.

The Greenwood High School and Junior High School Male Chorus honored fallen veterans with a trumpet solo by Riley George, then a haunting rendition of "Mansions of the Lord," by Nick Glennie-Smith and Randall Wallace, arranged by Benjamin Harlan.

The program included a prisoner of war/missing in action remembrance and a celebration of military moms.

Ginger asked the students to honor their fallen heroes by doing well in school, going out into the world and succeeding, then bringing that success back to Greenwood.

"Everyday is a good day to be an American. God bless," Ginger said, exiting the stage to a standing ovation.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Media joined 127th Wing Stratotanker crew for A-10C refueling training

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

At Selfridge ANGB some media representants had the opportunity to join a 127th Wing KC-135 Stratotanker crew for an A-10C refueling training. Refueled were three "Warthogs" from the 107th Fighter Squadron, 127th Wing (Michigan ANG).

Michigan Air Guard jet pilots show off high-octane fill-up

By Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
November 21, 2012 at 11:15 am

The connection is complete and the A-10 can now start to get fuel from the KC-135. The pilot of the A-10 has to keep in line with the KC-135, despite turbulance, in order to not stress the connection. (Photo by Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)

Harrison Township — John Karns says patience is the key to refueling a jet from another jet more than 18,000 feet in the air.

"It can get hairy from time to time, especially with the weather or if there's a lot of turbulence," said Karns, a master sergeant with the Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Wing.

Karns made the comments as he and three fellow guardsmen prepared to conduct a training exercise on a KC-135 Stratotanker at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base. The 127th Wing is the base's host organization.

The crew was joined by six journalists from Metro Detroit, including a photographer and reporter with The Detroit News.

Technical Sgt. Dan Heaton, a spokesman for the 127th Wing, said the organization occasionally invites the media to join guardsmen on training missions when flights are available.

"We also want people to know we're still here and there are still a lot of jobs and opportunities available at Selfridge, particularly for young people," Heaton said.

Earlier this year, the White House was considering cuts to the Air National Guard that would have eliminated more than 700 jobs and a fighter jet unit at the base. In May, Congress spared the base.

The 127th Wing includes about 1,700 guardsmen. It operates eight Stratotankers at Selfridge as well as the A-10 Thunderbolt II, an air-to-ground attack fighter also known as the "Warthog."

The KC-135 Stratotanker is sort of like a flying gas station for U.S. military jets. The craft is more than 136 feet long, has a wingspan of more than 130 feet and can hold about 200,000 pounds of jet fuel, Karns said.

About an hour after takeoff and flying somewhere near Traverse City on a Stratotanker designated as #0346, Karns took his spot.

As boom operator, Karns' job is to hook up the jet's fuel pump nozzle to other aircraft while both jets are in flight. Karns, 53, of New Baltimore, has been a boom operator for four years and a member of the Air National Guard since 1981.

He was on his stomach in front of small windows and the controls for the jet's 30-foot-long refueling boom at the rear of the aircraft.

The controls resemble those of video games, with a joystick for maneuvering the boom. Karns also wore a radio headset that enabled him to communicate with the pilots of the three A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from Selfridge that were being refueled.

The Stratotanker's pilot — Capt. Totsch, who didn't want his first name used for security reasons — said the key to refueling other jets in the sky for him is just keeping his jet steady.

"We just have to maintain a steady course," he said. "And the pilot of the other aircraft and the boom operator do all the work."

"Of course, good weather helps," he said. "A bumpy flight can make it a lot harder."


The picture on top and the following five are from the associated photo gallery Jet-to-jet refueling 18,000 feet in the air (including 12 photos)
Two A-10s maneuvers into position for the mid-air refueling behind the KC-135. (Photo by Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)

The A-10 gets into position and then Karns manuevers the boom into the small forward refueling port. Unlike with Navy air-to-air refueling planes, the boom operator makes the final adjustments as opposed to the pilot manuevering the plane into the final connection says Karns. (Photo by Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)

The A-10, when connected, is only 30 feet or less from the bottom of the KC-135s with the pilot easily visible through the viewing port. (Photo by Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)

The A-10 Thunderbolt II is done with refueling and clear of the KC-135 Stratotanker with a full tank of gas as it flies over the ceiling of clouds covering Michigan. (Photo by Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)

Master Sgt. John Karns shows the viewing window and boom control area under the back of the KC-135 where Karns will be situated, manuevering the boom into the forward refueling port of the A-10. (Photo by Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)

Aboard an ANG KC-135 Stratotanker for a refueling mission

By Alan Longstreet Fox 2 News Reporter

Posted: Nov 22, 2012 12:28 AM
Updated: Nov 22, 2012 12:53 AM

HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJBK) -- Selfridge is one of the oldest military air fields in the United States. Recently, I had the opportunity to tag along on a refueling mission that originated from there.

"Today we're flying aboard a KC-135 Stratotanker. This is one of two aircraft flown by the Air National Guard at Selfridge. The other one is the A-10 Thunderbolt II, and we will be refueling those in air a little bit later in today's mission," said Technical Sergeant Dan Heaton with the 127th Wing.

"Selfridge has been an airfield for 95 years. It's one of the oldest airfields in the Air Force. We think it's one of the best airfields in the Air Force."

Those were reassuring words to hear before take off. These, however, we're not.

"This aircraft, this one was built in 1960," Heaton said.

"A lot of U.S. Air Force aircraft come from that era. They're still in operation because we have some of the best aircraft mechanics in the history of the world that work right here at Selfridge."

It sounded like I was in good hands and after a smooth takeoff, it was time for the fun to begin.

"The air refueling mission is like a ballet in the air. There's a lot of teamwork that is involved. The pilots of this aircraft, the boom operator, the pilot of the receiving aircraft, they're all in communication," Heaton explained.

With only 30 feet separating the two aircraft, there is not a lot of room for error.

"The A-10s will come up behind us. We'll put them into position, extend the boom, and as long as they stay where they're supposed to stay, then it'll be real easy," said Master Sergeant John Karns.

And so it went off without a hitch. While this mission was for training purposes, these guys are in constant demand.

"This aircraft is continually in use by the Air Force supporting Air Force operations, Allied operations. Refuelers from Selfridge have been in operation earlier this year -- the Central Command area, which supports operations in Afghanistan, we've been in Germany, we've been in the Estonia, we've been in Guam," said Heaton.

They travel around the world, but many of them live in metro Detroit.

"All the people that work here at Selfridge, they're members of the Michigan Air National Guard, so that means that they are literally your friends and neighbors that come out here, put the uniform on, serve country and state, and we also like to think we serve the community," Heaton told me.

Associated video: Source

Please note: More related news media stuff will be uploaded soon.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thousand likes Warthog News on Facebook

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

Today, the official Facebook page of Warthog News reached 1000 likes.

(Screenshot by Joachim Jacob) Full size

Note: That makes me happy, and I wish to thank again all of these U.S. Air Force Public Affairs airmen of current "Warthog" units for their interesting news stories and official photos. A huge lot of pictures and background info on my blog is also provided by Warthog News contributors and other personal contacts. Thank you very much for your kind support! And: Thanks to all of these people around the world who visit my blog and its associated Facebook page!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A-10, carried by helicopter, arrives at park

An A-10 Thunderbolt II was moved to Heritage Park on Thursday by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. (Photo by Michelle Davies, The Journal Gazette)

Jeff Wiehe
The Journal Gazette
Last updated: November 16, 2012 12:58 p.m.

FORT WAYNE – Some of those out driving or just outside enjoying a little sun on the city's southwest side were treated to a little bit of spectacle Thursday, courtesy of the 122nd Fighter Wing.

Using a CH-47 Chinook – a huge helicopter – the fighter wing sling-loaded an A-10 Thunderbolt II jet and had it flown to Heritage Park at the front of the unit's base at 3005 Ferguson Road.

The A-10 – a plane weighing about 19,000 pounds – is a retired jet and will in the near future be displayed for the public at Heritage Park, officials said.

Officials closed off a 400-foot radius along Ferguson Road between Bluffton Road and Airport Drive to complete the maneuver.


Related info:

Soft landing
The Journal Gazette
Published: November 16, 2012 3:00 a.m.

An A-10 Thunderbolt II is moved to Heritage Park by a CH-47 Chinook from the Company B, 2nd Battalion, 238th Medium Lift Aviation Unit, from Peoria, Ill., on Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Michelle Davies, The Journal Gazette)

Please note: Unfortunately, The Journal Gazette ( doesn't provide any larger picture versions. Anybody who had the opportunity to take hi-res shots of this significant event? Serial number ID of this "Hog" is also wanted! Additional info:

Retired A-10 Placed in 122nd's Air Park (Photos & Video)

By Scott Sarvay and Stephanie Parkinson
November 15, 2012
Updated Nov 15, 2012 at 5:14 PM EST

Fort Wayne, Ind. ( - It was an historic day Thursday at the 122nd Fighter Wing as a retired A-10 was moved into Heritage Park. The jet was the first A-10 assigned to the unit.

The 19,000lb A-10 was strapped up and flown across the base and into place by a CH-47 Chinook from the Company B, 2nd Battalion, 238th Medium Lift Aviation Unit, Peoria Ill.

"It's very special to have this plane. It was the first one assigned back last summer, we received it, we knew that it was probably not going to go back into the Air Force inventory, it actually belongs to the Air Force Museum right now and they've allowed us to keep it here in Heritage Park and display it," said Col. Craig Ash, 122nd Fighter Wing.

"This is a great thing that Col. Soldner started years ago, the base commander then, in order to get all these planes located out here so that the generally public can enjoy them at the same time that the unit members do and you can see the heritage of the unit, what all we've flown over the years with them being placed out here," said Ash.

Sometime over the next month a crane will move the A-10 to a special mount inside the park where it will be displayed.

To help maintain Heritage Park pavers will be sold that will cover the gravel area around the fighter jets. To purchase a paver please visit The park is set to open sometime in the spring.

Associated video:


Associated pictures:

(Photo by Stephanie Parkinson)

(Photo by Stephanie Parkinson)

(Photo by Stephanie Parkinson)

(Photo by Stephanie Parkinson)

(Photo by Stephanie Parkinson)

On their official Facebook page 122nd Fighter Wing released the following picture:

The 122nd Fighter Wing sets it's first A-10C Thunderbolt II at the front of the bases entrance in Heritage park to share it's rich history with the community that supports the base. Heritage Park opens Spring 2013 for Public Use. Full size

For more info about the heritage park project please visit The Chapter 89 NCOAGA Paver Program

Full size

First-hand info:

Video description: Chinook hauling a Hawg. 122FW moving an A-10C to our "Heritage Park"

Thanks to Jay Jenkins, 122nd Fighter Wing A-10C crew chief for linking this clip on my official Warthog News Facebook page!
In an exclusive reply to me on Facebook Jay wrote: "I'll have to check for sure, but I think it's 80-0168. It was a DM West Coast Demo bird before it became our GITA maintenance trainer a couple years ago."

Las Vegas nightlife meets the "Hog"

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

On Nellis Air Force Base's public website 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs released the following picture:

An A-10 Thunderbolt takes off over the Las Vegas Skyline during Green Flag-West Oct. 30, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Green Flag-West provides a realistic close-air support training environment for Airmen and soldiers preparing to deploy in support of combat operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hughes) Hi-res

Note: This incredible shot is part of a news story Green Flag-West provides joint training experience. But because there's no A-10C fighter squadron mentioned in the story it seems the pictured "Hog" belongs either to the 66th Weapons Squadron (WPS) or to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES), both located at Nellis. If I should be wrong, please drop me a line.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Exclusive: A-10C swap between D-M and Nellis

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

Warthog News contributor Bruce Smith from the United States has the opportunity to take shots of aircraft over Nellis AFB nearly every day. During the last couple of weeks, Bruce documented a "silent" but significant swap of A-10Cs between the 355th Fighter Wing (ACC), Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, and the 66th Weapons Squadron (WPS), USAF Weapons School (USAFWS), 57th Wing (ACC), Nellis AFB, Nevada.

In an e-mail Bruce told me: 6 Nellis planes, 80-0200, 80-0229, 80-0234, 81-0946, 81-0958, and 81-0977 were sent to DM in exchange for 78-0657, 78-0671, 80-0176, 80-0204, 82-0665, and 1 other I don't know the serial as of yet. 80-0176 has been remarked as WA, but I have not seen it fly yet (see static shot taken during Aviation Nation 2012). I was told about 80-0204 by a 66th WPS guy at the show, but have yet to see it. The other 3 listed are still wearing DM marks. The sixth is unknown to me. WA kept 79-0204 and 80-0185. The reason for the swap was the 6 DMs were upgraded for the HCMS (Helmet Mounted Cueing System) while the 6 WAs traded for them were not. The 2 kept planes were already upgraded for HMCS.

A-10C 80-0176 on static display at Nellis AFB during Aviation Nation 2012. This "Hog" is new to the 66th Weapons Squadron due to a plane swap with the 355th Fighter Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB. The former 358th Fighter Squadron jet has been already remarked as 66th WPS plane. (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

A-10C 78-0671 (still wearing 357th Fighter Squadron markings) now belongs to the 66th WPS (2012-10-30). (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

A-10C 78-0657 (still wearing 358th Fighter Squadron markings) now belongs to the 66th WPS (2012-10-19). (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

A-10C 78-0657 (still wearing 358th Fighter Squadron markings) DM now belongs to the 66th WPS (2012-10-17). (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

A-10C 82-0665 (still marked "355TH OG/CC" as 355th Operations Group bird) now belongs to the 66th WPS (2012-10-17). (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

A-10C 82-0665 (still marked "355TH OG/CC" as 355th Operations Group bird) now belongs to the 66th WPS (2012-10-15). (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

The 66th WPS kept A-10C 80-0204 (2012-10-15), and also A-10C 80-0185. (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

Please note: More pictures and background info will be uploaded soon.

Request for support: Anybody who can/will provide a photo proof of A-10C 80-0204 now at Nellis and serial number identification for the sixth swapped D-M "Hog"? I would be also very grateful for transfer dates of all twelve aircraft and photos of the former six 66th WPS "Hogs" after their arrival at D-M. If you like to contribute anything please contact me via e-mail (see impressum).

BTW: Don't miss Bruce's impressive photostream on Flickr.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The "Hog" at Aviation Nation 2012

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

Updated November 20 and 21, 2012

Team Nellis Public Affairs released the following two official photos:

An A-10 Thunderbolt II takes off to perform an aerial demonstration during Aviation Nation Nov. 11, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The A-10 Thunderbolt II has excellent maneuverabilty at low air speeds and altitudes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal) Hi-res

Aviation Nation 2012 depicts the history of American aviation and salutes the recent accomplishments of America's military in operations around the globe through numerous military and civilian ground displays Nov. 10, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Aviation Nation is the largest free public event in Nevada. (U.S. Air Force Photo By Senior Airman Daniel Hughes) Hi-res

Note: This incredible aerial shot shows A-10C 80-0176 from the 66th Weapons Squadron on static display between a F-22 Raptor and a F-15C Eagle.

Warthog News contributor Bruce Smith from the United States had the opportunity to take the following shot:

A-10C 80-0176 on static display. This "Hog" is new to the 66th Weapons Squadron due to a plane swap with Davis-Monthan. (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

Update November 20, 2012:

Warthog News contributor Ken Middleton from the United States took the following shots, already posted on his Facebook album Aviation Nation 2012. Ken wrote: 80-0176 "WA" was on static; and 80-0242 "OT" billboard jet, and 79-0171 "OT" flew in the demo, but used the far runway and the shots are just fair.

A-10C 80-0176, captured nicely under the condition of late day sun and clouds. (Photo by Ken Middleton) Full size

Front view of A-10C 80-0176. Note the fascinating air intake cover with the inscription 757th AMXS THUNDER, owned by the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (Photo by Ken Middleton) Full size

A-10C 80-0176. (Photo by Ken Middleton) Full size

A-10C 79-0171 from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) takes off for an aerial demonstration. Dramatic shot with retracting landing gears and the Nellis tower in the background. (Photo by Ken Middleton) Full size

Overhead shot of A-10C 79-0171 during an aerial demonstration. (Photo by Ken Middleton) Full size

A-10C 80-0242 from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES), marked "53 WG" as the 53rd Wing's flagship (or boss bird) takes off for an aerial demonstration. (Photo by Ken Middleton) Full size

Overhead shot of A-10C 80-0242 during an aerial demonstration. (Photo by Ken Middleton) Full size

A-10C 80-0242 during an aerial demonstration. The smoke comes from pyrotechnics on the ground. (Photo by Ken Middleton) Full size

Note: Although based at Nellis AFB, the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron "Green Bats" comes under the command of the 53rd Wing (ACC) at Eglin AFB, Florida.

Update November 21, 2012:

Yesterday, via Facebook I asked Ken for a close-up shot of the impressive air intake covers on A-10C 80-0176. And here it comes:

This 757th AMXS air intake cover artwork is really phantastic. (Photo by Ken Middleton) Full size

Note: According to an official 57th Wing fact sheet, 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron accomplishes intermediate-level maintenance on aircraft and support equipment components, maintaining avionics, laser guided weapons systems, pneudraulics, fuel systems, engines, measurement/diagnostic equipment, electro-environmental, and egress systems. Squadron AMUs are Eagle (F-15C/D), Strike (F-15E), Thunder (A-10), and Flanker (F-15C/D). Source