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Three active FASF members, also members of the local Order of the Daedalians (A fraternity of U.S. Military Pilots), Flight 24 of El Paso, TX, attended the graduation ceremonies for the latest class of new F-16 “Viper”¹ Fighter Pilots at nearby Holloman Air Force, Alamogordo, NM., this past weekend. Ric Lambart was privileged to be the presenter of the General Nichols‘ Leadership Award to one of the 311th Fighter Squadron’s Top graduates. When he did so, he was pleasantly surprised that the award was made to the only female in the class of 18 flying officers, 1st Lieutenant Claire Bieber. Lt. Bieber went to the United States Air Force Academy on an athletic scholarship for Volleyball. After graduation from the AF Academy, Lt. Bieber obtained her USAF Pilot’s wings and then went on to advanced jet training training at Holloman. Lt. Bieber’s only sibling, an older sister, Kelly, also attended the Air Force Academy on an athletic scholarship, but in Soccer. She also became an Air Force jet pilot and is stationed in Alaska, where she is Aircraft Commander of a large AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) aircraft. Although neither of the girls’ parents are pilots, their grandfather was a B-24 “Liberator” pilot during WWII. Lt. Bieber’s new assignment is in South Korea. The Graduation Ceremony Banquet had close to 500 guests.
** Sgt. Amanda Junk’s other photographs of the Graduation Ceremony and Banquet held March 4th can be found right here on the HAFB Facebook Page.
¹ The “F-16 Fighting Falcon” is also well known by other nicknames besides the “Fighting Falcon.” Other popular nicknames are: “VIPER“; “ELECTRIC JET“; “SWEET SIXTEEN“; and the “LAWN DART,” the latter name having a somewhat derogatory implication, the result of the earliest experimental versions having had so many technical problems and accidents. However, it is now generally agreed that this multi-role supersonic fighter is about the most maneuverable air superiority jet fighters ever put into production. The F-16 was first put into service by the U.S. in 1978, but has been continuously improved to the present day. The USAF expects this fourth generation fighter to remain on active duty until 2025.
The official name of this fighter is “Fighting Falcon” and the name was the result of a world-wide USAF “Name the Plane” contest held in the late 1970’s, when Technical Sergeant Joseph Kurdell of McGill AFB, FL. won with the name, “Fighting Falcon.” The winning name occurred to him as the result of his fond memories of attending many Air Force Academy sports events when he’d been stationed near there years earlier. The Air Force Academy’s official Team Mascot/Logo is the “Fighting Falcon.”