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Command Chief familiarization flight
18th Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Brett Williams assists Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Warner before his F-15 familiarization flight as Senior Airman Stanley Weaver, a Crew Chief from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, ensures everything is properly secured, May 27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Lakisha Croley)
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Kadena command chief takes flight

Posted 6/8/2009   Updated 6/8/2009 Email story   Print story


by 1st Lt. Bryan Bouchard
18th Wing Public Affairs

6/8/2009 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 18th Wing Command Chief Master Sergeant took flight May 27, soaring through the sky in the backseat of an F-15 with his boss, Brig. Gen. Brett Williams.

"I'm excited to fly today, but let's see how I feel in the end; I've never flown in a fighter," said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Warner, who was about to embark on this first experience in a fighter during his 25-year career.

The chief's familiarization flight took place in order to provide the base's senior enlisted leader with more insight into the mission of Pacific Air Force's largest wing, General Williams said.

"It's important for the chief to see the whole Kadena mission and all that our Airmen do to keep these airplanes in the air," the general said. "He is getting to see something not very many people get to see - a glimpse into what fighter pilots do. This is especially important as part of the senior leadership team."

In order for the chief to fly like an "Eagle," he had to first go through training provided by pilots life support Airmen from the 18th Wing. Following the training, he was ready to fly. With the help of the 67th Fighter Squadron's Senior Airman David Dollman, the chief donned his "G-suit" and was ready to step to the plane.

General Williams and the chief made their way to the F-15D, one of four two-seat variants assigned to Kadena, and started the pre-flight inspection process. The mission of the day was to act as "red air," meaning the pair portrayed aggressors in a training scenario involving F-15s from Kadena as well as F-16s from Osan and Kunsan Air Bases, Republic of Korea.

As the general readied the jet for flight, the chief situated himself in the cockpit, staring intensely at the seatback in front of him, mentally preparing himself for the flight ahead. After a short time on the ground, the two were ready and taxied down the ramp to the runway.

The two combated in the skies, pushing both of their bodies through the pressures and rigors that only multiple-Gs produce. After racing through the airspace surrounding Okinawa in the Air Force's air superiority workhorse, they returned with several members of the 18th Wing on-hand to see how the chief fared during his first flight in a fighter.

"It was exciting, exhilarating and a good reality check," the chief said after he stepped from the jet and greeted his wife, Heather.

The chief returned to the 67th FS building, and reflected on his flight. He said he appreciated not only the opportunity to experience a fighter aircraft, but gained a better understanding about those who fly them on a daily basis.

"A pilot's job is something we can't see from the ground, and is nothing like in the movies," Chief Warner said. "It makes you really gain more respect for what the pilots do."

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