Hoeven: Hooligans Achieve Flight Safety Milestone
BISMARCK, N.D. – Governor John Hoeven announced a new flight safety achievement was reached this week by the North Dakota Air National Guard.
Pilots from the 119th Fighter Wing today surpassed 70,000 hours of accident-free flying in the F-16 fighter aircraft March 6, on a practice air defense scramble mission from the North Dakota Guard’s Alert Detachment at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. Only one other Air National Guard unit, the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Station, South Carolina, has flown longer in the F-16 fighter aircraft without a mishap.
The 119th Fighter Wing is part of the Continental NORAD Region (CONR). A component of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), CONR provides airspace surveillance and control and directs air sovereignty activities for the continental United States. Since Sept. 11, 2001, CONR has been the lead agency for Operation Noble Eagle, an ongoing mission to protect the continental United States from further terrorist aggression from inside and outside of U.S. borders.
“The Happy Hooligans have continually proven themselves as the best of the best,” Hoeven said. “This new safety record is a testament to the dedication and professionalism of our pilots and all of the airmen that support their mission.”
The North Dakota Air National Guard has flown the F-16 Air Defense Fighter since December 1989 and is regularly acknowledged for their impeccable flight safety record by National Guard Bureau and Headquarters, Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Force. In addition to 70,000 hours in the F-16, the 119th Fighter Wing has flown more than 51,000 accident-free hours in the F-4D Phantom II fighter, plus another 20,800 hours of safe flying in the F-101B Voodoo. Their last aircraft accident occurred in March, 1973, some 33 years ago.
70,000 hours of continuous accident-free flyer equates to flying a single F-16 non-stop for nearly eight years.
The North Dakota Air National Guard is an active participant in the Continental United States NORAD Region, beginning with the runway alert program at Fargo in 1954, and hosting air defense alert at home station through the spring of 1990. The unit has also operated detached air sovereignty alert sites at Klamath Falls, Ore from 1989-1994, at the former March Air Force Base, Ca from 1994-1998, and now at Langley AFB since September, 1998.
A special celebration is planned for March 11 at the 119th Fighter Wing during drill weekend. Attendees will include senior vice presidents of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, manufacturer of the F-16, and the Pratt & Whitney division of United Technologies Corporation, manufacturer of the F-16 jet engines.