Flightlines

San Francisco’s ‘Batkid’ becomes pilot for a day

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Miles Scott at the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Ore., April 10, 2014. Scott has battled leukemia and his doctors have recently said he is in remission. (photo Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Air Force)

He’s done it again! Five-year-old Miles Scott, notoriously known as “Batkid,” just defeated the villains once more — this time, with the help of some pilots and an F-15.

Miles, a Tulelake, Calif. native, is in remission from leukemia, and, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, managed to turn his obsession with comic book heroes into the real thing in November when he became “Batkid.”  Thousands of San Francisco residents showed up to cheer Miles on during his quest to save the city of San Francisco (or Gotham-for-the-Day).

For this mission, Miles reported for duty at the Oregon Air National Guard’s 173rd Fighter Wing as part of the Pilot for a Day program on April 10, according to Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson and the 114th Fighter Squadron.

But this time, flying in his ‘batsuit’ was not on the agenda: Miles wore an F-15 pilot uniform, along with helmet, mask, and at one point, night vision goggles.

The batman symbol was tacked on his jet with the help of crew chief Tech. Sgt. Cliff Rutlege, who created the replica in honor of Miles’s visit.

Miles and his family watched takeoffs, and Miles sat in the cockpit of a jet thanks to instructor pilot Maj. Richard Giampietri.

But to get himself ready for the main mission of the day, Miles experienced the parachute shop and Aircrew Flight Equipment materials.

Then, “Batkid” was back: Giampetri commissioned Batkid to defeat super-villains, The Riddler and Joker, who planned to use stolen Russian MiGs to wreak havoc on the world at large, Thompson writes.

Batkid went head-to-head with the villains in the 173rd Fighter Wing F-15 simulator. He emerged victorious and with a wide smile.

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Sound off: Best and worst bases in the Air Force?

What are some of the best and worse bases in the Air Force? We’d like to hear your thoughts on which are the dream postings, and which are to be avoided at all costs.

You can either sound off below, or send me an email at slosey@airforcetimes.com. Feel free to say what makes you feel this way. Does the base offer plenty of solid amenities? Are the county schools in the area lacking? Is the area clean, and the climate nice? Does the cost-of-living make it tough to stretch a buck?

And as always, if you’d like to talk anonymously, that’s fine.

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The summer blockbuster: Budget battles over the A-10

Hangar 30, a video production firm that specializes in work for the Defense Department, just released this “trailer” on the A-10 budget battles in Congress, asking the question: Will Bacon be Fried?

The latest on the fight: A group of lawmakers this week vowed to craft amendments to the defense authorization bill to prevent the Air Force from cutting the Warthog.

 

Pilots introduce Solar Impulse 2

The big debut of “Solar Impulse 2” has arrived.

Jean Revillard for Solar Impulse 2 via AP Images

(Jean Revillard for Solar Impulse 2 via AP Images)

The aircraft – powered by 17,248 solar cells spread across its wings and body – is the successor of Solar Impulse, which flew across the U.S. last summer in about two months’ time.

Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, Swiss pilots and co-founders of the project, unveiled their new aircraft today, a year ahead of their planned round-the-world flight, according to Agence France-Presse.

Solar Impulse 2 is a bigger, better version of its predecessor, Borschberg told officials, reeling off the new aircraft’s statistics: The new plane has a wingspan of about 236 feet (72 meters), comparable to an Airbus A380. However, its weight is less than 1 percent of the jumbo jet, weighing in at about 5,070 pounds (2,300 kilos).

The original weighs around 3,520 pounds and has a wingspan of a 747-400 jet.

The goal for Solar Impulse 2 is to be able to fly for at least 120 hours non-stop around the globe, the pilots said.

Last June, members of the U.S. Air Force had the opportunity to see the aircraft in person. Dr. Donald Erbschloe, Air Mobility Command chief scientist, and Col. Keith Boone, AMC Fuel Efficiency Division chief, headed out to Lambert-St Louis International Airport to check out the original Solar Impulse while it was in the area.

The Air Force scientists met with Solar Impulse’s assistant flight director as part of the Department of Defense’s efficiency initiative to further lookout for innovative, cost-effective solutions to augment mission effectiveness.

Over 70 companies have contributed their technologies to the Solar Impulse project.

Solar Impulse began in 2003 with a 10-year budget of $112 million (90 million euros). It first took to the air in 2009.

Check out more photos of Solar Impulse 2 here.

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Army chief expresses support for Air Force’s A-10 retirement plans

A common argument from A-10 supporters is that it is far and away the preferred close air support platform for troops on the ground, but the top soldier said today that the Army would be OK without the Warthog having its back.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told lawmakers today that while the Army did not make a recommendation to retire the A-10, the Air Force has worked with the service to ensure that the best close air support will be provided.

The Air Force, in its fiscal 2015 budget request, is proposing retirement of the entire fleet of 343 A-10s, with other aircraft, such as the F-35, expected to take over the close air support role. Ground troops have always favored the A-10, with its infamous GAU-8 Avenger gun and slow loiter time, as the best close air support platform.

Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., pressed Odierno on the A-10 issue, and the general expressed the Army’s support for the Air Force’s decision.

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Airman honored for medic service

An airman was one of five medics and corpsmen who were honored last week at the 8th annual ‘Angels of the Battlefield’ gala sponsored by the Armed Services YMCA in Washington, D.C.

Senior Airman Taylor Renfro poses with her award with Gen. Larry Spencer. (Photo courtesy Meredith Resnick).

Senior Airman Taylor Renfro poses with her award with Gen. Larry Spencer. (Photo courtesy Meredith Resnick).

Gen. Larry Spencer, Air Force vice chief of staff, presented the ‘Angel’ award on behalf of the Air Force to Senior Airman Taylor Renfro.

Renfro, 23, received the award for providing life-saving treatment during her career as an Air Force medic.

Renfro herself was saved by another medic in May 2013 when her vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Severely injured, the Jacksonville, Ill., native was given only a 30-percent chance of survival. Since the injury, Renfro has spent her time at Walter Reed Hospital undergoing seven surgeries, with more to come.

More than 300 guests, including senior military and enlisted service members, gathered on the honorees’ behalf.

“Despite the monumental improvements in methods, technology, and techniques of medical intervention, it’s the faces behind the care that our wounded warriors ultimately recognize as their lifesavers . . . the heroes of the heroes,” said Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral James Winnefeld, who delivered the keynote address.

The “Angels” represent each of the five service branches of the U.S. military, and were chosen by their respective service chiefs.

The remaining 2014 Angels include:

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TACP instructor: Trainees should know what to expect

If you are thinking about becoming a Tactical Air Control Party airman, you should know how hard the training is, said legendary TACP instructor Tech. Sgt. Israel Del Toro Jr.

Recently, a rash of service members from other branches of the service and airmen from other career fields have either washed out of or quit TACP training, Del Toro told Air Force Times on Wednesday.

Unlike airmen straight out of basic training, those people “should know what they’re getting into” when they try out to become TACP airmen, said Del Toro, who re-enlisted in 2010 after suffering burns over 80 percent of his body when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

“We only have a limited number of spots for cross-trainees and prior service guys, so when you have guys that show up here and don’t want to be here, it takes a spot from a guy that probably really wanted to be here and who was ready,” Del Toro said.

To provide potential TACPs with a glimpse of what they can expect during training, Del Toro posted video on his Facebook page of TACP trainees doing a workout routine they have nicknamed the “House of Pain.” It involves five rounds of flipping tractor tires, carrying weights, squat to overhead press, sit-ups, a run and other exercises.

“Like our motto says, ‘The Strong Shall Stand, The Weak Will Fall By The Wayside!!’” Del Toro wrote on his Facebook page.

See the video below:

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Mustache March: The winners

Chief of Staff Gen March Welsh has announced the Mustache March winners. Watch our site for more information.