Pilots share perspective with orientation flights

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee
  • Anatolian Falcon 2012 Public Affairs
Pilots from the 480th Fighter Squadron from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, are sharing their bird's-eye perspective during Anatolian Falcon 2012 March 5-16 with the support Airmen who make flight possible.

Orientation flights allow Airmen whose day-to-day job is working with or maintaining the aircraft a chance to view how their specific mission fits into the grand scheme of air operations.

The squadron employs the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, and the D model has an additional seat. The squadron is filling as many seats as possible during the bilateral exercise which calls for nearly 400 sorties.

"Our goal is to have zero empy backseats," said Capt. John Mann, 480th FS pilot. "Maintenance and operations Airmen are authorized to have these flights to show them exactly how or why the pilots need what they need."

Staff Sgt. Charles Morris, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics specialist, had his chance to fly March 6.

"I'm real excited," he said an hour before his flight. "I've been waiting 10 years for this ride. It's an amazing feeling."

Morris has worked in avionics for nine and a half years. Avionics Airmen repair or maintain the electronics of the aircraft such as the radar or radio. Before his flight in the aircraft, Morris said he gets a sense of accomplishment every time he sees an F-16 take off -- he knows his work put the jet there.

Maj. Kevin Fisher, 480th FS, was the pilot who flew with Morris. Once airborne, Fischer would demonstrate the capabilities of the F-16 with fast-speed aerial maneuvers.

"We'll take it easy on him," Fisher said with a laugh.

After the orientation flight ended, Morris said he couldn't help but feel an appreciation for what the pilots do every day. He saw firsthand how his work with avionics ensured the pilots could do their job.

"To actually get up there and see what they do ... it's surreal," he said. "And it's amazing to see all of your systems and understand how they work in the air.

"It was a blast," he said.