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NEWS | Feb. 13, 2019

1st FW soars past sortie goal

By Airman 1st Class Monica Roybal 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 1st Fighter Wing recently exceeded the minimum number of sorties set for the month of January by launching more than 250 sorties in three days at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

The 1st FW teamed up with the 192nd Wing and members assigned to the 633rd Logistics Readiness Squadron to accomplish this record-breaking sortie goal in an effort to maintain combat mission readiness.


“This was an entire wing goal,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Hinds, 1st FW commander. “It was tough to accomplish, but the three wings communicated very well with each other. We understood the mission, planned for it and then successfully executed it.”


Hinds explained that due to obstacles such as weather, birds on the flight line and equipment maintenance, the wings planned to perform a three-day surge to ensure they hit their desired goal, during which six hot pits were assembled and more than 250 sorties were launched. Hot pits are typically performed during combat situations to rapidly refuel aircraft while their engines are running, enabling them to jump right back into the fight.


“We have never done six hot pits before,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jay Harris, 1st FW command chief. “When charged with the possibility, our Airmen adapted to the requirement, got going, and then absolutely crushed it!”


Both Hinds and Harris agreed that the sortie goal was accomplished by empowering Airmen to improve and innovate current procedures. Consistent open communication was key to the objective of making every Airman understand that they have ownership in the mission and the ability to make it better. 


“It’s our Airmen, [they are] our human weapon systems that are able to find creative ways to get the mission done,” Harris said. “We can have cutting-edge technology and advanced weapons systems, but wars are won by out-maneuvering and out-thinking your adversary. Our Airmen have exceptional motivation and pride in their mission and work hard every day to increase our wing’s lethality and readiness.”


One such contributing member was Senior Airman John Roach, 1st FW dedicated crew chief, who supervised new Airmen during their first surge. 


“Surges are especially great training for new Airmen,” Roach said. “From the moment we get out of roll-call to the moment we leave, we’re working hard and constantly launching aircraft.”


Roach explained how the maintenance teams rallied as they approached the end of the month and hitting the targeted sortie number was within arm’s reach. 


“We felt good about our performance at the start of the surge so that helped build momentum to keep working harder,” Roach said. “The last couple days of the surge, we knew that we were doing well so it definitely boosted our confidence and our pride.”


Feb. 1 was named the 1st FW’s Goal Day and all participating Airmen were rewarded with the day off to celebrate with friends and family.


Hinds said he made the accomplishment announcement at the wing’s quarterly awards ceremony to a room full of fired-up Airmen who were beaming with pride and morale.


“I was so excited for them because I know how much work this took,” Hinds said. “The readiness of the three wings is higher than I have seen and there is no doubt in my mind that if we get that phone call, we will be first to the fight.”