Tag Archives: UTEP

FASF Members Take Part in New F-16 Viper Pilot Graduation

F-16 Viper Takes Off with its Afterburner

ALL PHOTOS IN THIS POST MAY BE SEEN* IN HI RESOLUTION BY SIMPLY CLICKING ON THEM

This Saturday, five active FASF members were again invited to join the base’s 49th Wing as it graduated the latest group of 11 new USAF Lockheed F-16 “Viper” fighter pilots, all members of the 8th Fighter Squadron’s Class 19-CBF.

Attending the evening’s celebratory dinner were Daedalian Flight 24’s Flight Captain, Colonel Mario Campos, it’s Adjutant, Colonel Bob Pitt,  Ric Lambart, Colonel Miles “Cowboy” Crowell, and AFROTC Cadet Major, Ammber Valverde, Daedalian Scholarship recipient and currently the youngest member of the FASF.  Ammber is a Junior at both the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) AFROTC Detachment 505.

A ‘Blue Team‘ F-16 from the 388th Wing, 421st Fighter Squadron, the “Black Widows“, flies high above the Nevada desert during a training exercise. Taking a break from the action below the clouds, this F-16 from Hill Air Force Base prepares to take on fuel from an awaiting KC-135 Tanker from the Washington State Air National Guard.

11 F-16 Viper student pilots graduated from the 8th Fighter Squadron’s F-16 Basic Course, during a ceremony at Club Holloman, Saturday, December 14th, 2019.

Graduating students, parents, wives, faculty and guest line up to enter the dining room for the graduation dinner.

The F-16 B-Course is a 37-week long course required for all student pilots. On average, B-Course students log 70 hours of flying time over 59 sorties in addition to roughly 245-hours of academic training and 69-hours of flight simulator training.

The dessert table had the class cake appropriately designated.

The 49th Wing is the Air Force’s premiere F-16 and MQ-9 Reaper aircrew training wing. Graduates of the F-16 B-course will be reassigned to operational flying units throughout the world as members of the combat Air Force.

L to R; Public Affairs Office Photographer, Staff Sgt.Christine Groening, listens to Col. Cowboy Crowell describe his tour in Vietnam conflict as Colonel Mario Campos listens. Both men are active FASF members.

Well into its middle age (it was 1st flown 45 years ago in 1974) the “Fighting Falcon” (it’s official original name, which has been almost thoroughly replaced by the more popular and honored name – The “Viper” – one assigned to it by its many pilots over all those years).  As seen immediately below, the Viper remains the chosen exhibition jet for the renown USAF Thunderbirds, which have used its extreme maneuverability in their airshows for 36 straight years.

The above video shows some typical operational F-16 Squadrons carrying out their  missions including some hi-resolution cockpit footage.

Colonel Bob Pitt and AFROTC Major, Ammber Valverde talking about her upcoming career in the USAF and of her intent to also become a fighter pilot. Both are active members of the FASF.

Here are the 11 proud members of the graduating Class19-CBF:

Capt. Justin Goar; 1st Lt. Seth Bolon; 1st Lt. Alexander Drakoulakis; 1st Lt. Austin Gillis: 1st Lt. Michael Kelvin; 1st Lt. Tyler Olson; 1st Lt. Colin Ruane; 1st Lt. Landon Santori; 1st Lt. David Schmitz; 1st Lt. Domenick Stumpo; and 1st Lt. Zachary Tarbox.

PAO Staff Sergeant Christine Groening and Colonel Bob Pitt. 

Originally designed and manufactured by General Dynamics Corporation and then licensed to for production  by Lockheed Martin Corporation, the newest model of the fighter was first put into action just four years ago.  It is the newest variant of  F-16 fighter jet, known as the F-16V “Viper.” The F-16’s cost the USAF about $38 million each – – – and it cost the USAF about $3 million to train each of these F-16 fighter pilots to master this nimble 4th generation fighter.

Lt. Col. Miles “Cowboy” Crowell and Cadet Major Ammber Valverde.

8th Squadron Commander, Lt. Colonel  “Harm” Finch, addresses the audience to help kick of the ceremonies.

PAO Staff Sergeant Christine Groening in action.

L to R: Col. Bob Pitt, LC Miles “Cowboy” Crowell, and Cadet Major Ammber Valverde

8th Tactical Fighter Squadron F-16 Flight Instructor, Capt. Brittany “Blitz” Trimble, who organized the entire event,  addresses the audience.

View of North part of Dining Hall at the Holloman Club, with (L to R) in foreground, Cols. Bob Pitt and Miles Crowell

View to the SW in Holloman Club’s Banquet Hall. In foreground (L to R) are Cols. Mario Campos, Bob Pitt and Miles Crowell.

Event’s Guest Speaker, Brig. General Joseph McFall, Asst. Deputy Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, and Asst. Vice Commander, 9th Air Expeditionary Task Force.

Graduating Student, Capt. Justin “Hamboar” Goar, presents the class’ thank-you to Guest Speaker, General McFall.

L to R: Captain Justin “Hamboar” Goar, one of the graduating students,  presents Capt. Brittany Trimble, with a thank-you gift from the Squadron and its students for having masterminded and planned the entire graduation event – a complex program which unfolded without a hitch!

L to R: Captain Goar, of the 19-CBF graduating Class, presents THE BEST INSTRUCTOR AWARD to Major Locke.

FASF member and Daedalian Flight 24 Captain, Col. Mario Campos describes Daedalian History and the Flight’s Leadership Award.

L to R: Cols. Bob Pitt and Miles Crowell along with Cadet Major Ammber Valverde, watch the Daedalian Award presentation by Col. Campos.

Col. Campos congratulates Leadership Award Trophy winner, Lt. Colin “Huds” Ruane, who will be in his new active duty assignment at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea in a few weeks.

Veteran Viet Nam Fighter Pilot, FASF and Daedalian Flight 24 member, Col. “Cowboy” Crowell presents the coveted “River Rat” trophy to Lt. Austin “Weed” Gillis, who will report to his duty station at Ft. Worth Air Reserve Base in Texas after this graduation ceremony.  The “River Rat” award is bestowed upon the student with whom his fellow student fighter pilots would most want to have flying on their wing in combat. The river in the title is the “Red River” and the North Vietnamese Valley through which it flows.  The pilots who flew in that theater during Vietnam were affectionately called the “River Rats.”

The 49th Wing Commander, Colonel Joseph Campo (L) presents the Distinguished Student Graduate Trophy to Lt. Domenick “ROK” Stumpo, who will report to Osan Air Base, South Korea, in January 2020.

Again, Col. Campo (L)  presents the same “Distinguished Graduate” award to its dual winner, Lt. Seth “Faded” Bolon, who will be reporting to Kunsan Air Base in South Korea for his 1st post graduation duty assignment.

FASF members, (L TO R): Cols. Mario Campos, Bob Pitt, and “Cowboy” Crowell and Ammber Valverde, applaud the graduates as they received their diplomas.

L to R: Cols. Mario Campos, and Bob Pitt, Daedalian Awardee, Lt. “Huds” Ruane, Col. Miles Crowell and River Rat Awardee, Lt. “Weed” Gillis, and Ric Lambart.  Photo courtesy of PAO Staff Sergeant, Christine Groening

L to R: Ammber Valverde, Capt. Brittany Trimble and 49th Wing Commander, Col. Joseph Campo

L to R: Ammber Valverde, Capt. Brittany Trimble, Cols. Bob Pitt and Joseph Campo.

           Ammber Valverde (L) discussing USAF flight training program with Capt. Brittany “Blitz” Trimble.

  Ammber is a Junior at UTEP and with the NMSU AFROTC Detachment 505.  She wants also become a fighter pilot.

This was a good opportunity for Ammber to learn what’s ahead for her as she gets prepared for USAF active duty.

                       Ammber and Capt. Trimble continue to cover Ammber’s future prospects.

Colonel Campo and LC Crowell reliving some of their combat experiences.  Col. Crowell, an FASF member and a Flight 24 Daedalian, is now retired from active duty with the USAF, and works at Holloman as a private contractor.

                    Col. Campos (L) talking with a Master Sergeant assigned to the 8th Fighter Squadron.

Captain Brittany “Blitz” Trimble and Cadet Major Ammber Valverde pose by the 8th Tactical Fighter Squadron’s official Emblem.

The Viper is broadly used throughout the world by powers friendly to the United States, and still remains the preferred aircraft for the world famous USAF Demonstration Team, the “Thunderbirds.

The Oct. 16 flight in Fort Worth, Texas, marked the first time the venerable fourth-generation fighter flew with an advanced radar like those found on the fifth-generation fighters F-22 and F-35, according to a press release this week from Lockheed.

The F-16V includes an APG-83 active electronically scanned array scalable agile beam radar made by Northrop Grumman Corp. The company also makes so-called active electronically scanned array radars for the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The new radar steers beams electronically — without moving parts — and redirects them from one location to another, according to the Government Accountability Office. Unlike a passive version, the radar spreads signals over multiple radio frequencies, making them difficult to detect and jam, and allowing the aircraft employing the technology to remain stealthy.

The APG-83 “fire control radar provides 5th Generation air-to-air and air-to-ground radar capability,” Lockheed said in the release. It “will deliver a quantum leap in capability for the venerable F-16.”

The F-16V advanced avionics configuration also includes a new cockpit center pedestal display, a modernized mission computer and a high-capacity Ethernet data bus, according to Lockheed.

Yet the upgrades aren’t slated to hit the U.S. fleet of more than 1,000 F-16s. The Air Force last year canceled a plan to upgrade some 340 of the single-engine fighters with such enhancements due to budget limitations and instead decided to fund other programs, including the F-35.

So Taiwan is set to become the first country to begin flying the F-16V Viper.

Lockheed, the world’s largest defense contractor, faces competition from the British defense giant, BAE Systems Plc, in the international market to upgrade many of the 3,000 F-16s now flying in foreign armed forces.

Of those, roughly 1,000 are more than 15 years old — making them prime candidates for enhancements to avoid obsolescence. While the F-16 won’t ever compete in the skies with newer jets like the F-22 or F-35, upgrading fourth-generation aircraft is far cheaper than buying fifth-generation fighters.

* If you would like to have any of these photos, feel free to download them from the hi-res (larger size view), after you click on it as it appears in the actual post/story.

Rio Grande Aviation Council Holds its Quarterly Fall Meeting

President Wes Baker of the 555 Chapter of the EAA, at Las Cruces International Airport, arrives in his Vintage Cessna 140 for the meeting.

This past weekend, the RGAC (Rio Grande Aviation Council) held its Fall quarterly meeting at the WEAM (War Eagles Air Museum) at the Doña Ana County International Jetport in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.

In the words of one of the RGAC’s original two founders, Bob Dockendorf,This newly formed organization is designed and purposed to improve and enhance communication between the many diverse groups that are involved in the regional  aviation community.

Thirteen (13) representatives of the some twenty odd member aviation industry concerned organizations attended.  The two group photos below show those representatives who were able to attend this past Saturday.

All this post’s photos can be seen in hi-resolution and full size by simply clicking on them!

The RGAC’s governing member organizations include the following:

  1. Amigo Air Sho
  2. Cielo Dorado HO Association
  3. Civil Air Patrol – Squadron 215 – El Paso
  4. Civil Air Patrol – Squadron 24 – Las Cruces
  5. Dust Devil Flying Club
  6. EAA Chapter 1570 – Santa Teresa, NM
  7. EAA Chapter 555 – Las Cruces, NM
  8. El Paso Aviation Association
  9. El Paso Remote Control Association
  10. First Aero Squadron Foundation
  11. Horizon City Remote Control Flyers
  12. Las Cruces Aviators Flying Club
  13. Mesilla Valley Model Airplane Club
  14. Ninety-Nines – El Paso Chapter
  15. Order of Daedalians – Flight 24 – El Paso
  16. Quiet Birdmen
  17. USAF Academy Association
  18. USAF JROTC, Las Cruces HS, NM
  19. USAF ROTC Det. 505, UTEP
  20. USAF ROTC Detachment 505 NMSU
  21. War Eagles Air Museum (WEAM)

L to R seated: Tania Privette, and WEAM Director and one of the RCAC founders, Bob Dockendorf, and EAA’s John Signorino work on meeting’s details.

Other profit-oriented or governmental organizations involved in local area aviation such as the Airfield Managers of KDNA (Dona Ana Jetport); LRU (Las Cruces International Airport); El Paso International Airport; Fabens Airport (Texas); The Commanders of Army Aviation’s Biggs Field and Holloman Air Force Base; Director of the UTEP Aero Apace Department; Managers of the Tenants at the New Mexico International Space Port and the Director of NMSU’s Physical Sciences Lab, along with the Elephant Butte Irrigation District . . . are engaged as members of the non-voting class of associate membership in the Council.

The actual governing of the Council is primarily determined by the non-profit educational aviation consumer oriented groups active in the region.

L to R front row: John Signoriino, Tania Privette, Ric Lambart – Back Row: Tracy Short, Aurora Navarro, Daniel  Barcena, Mike LeGendre, Col. Mario Campos, Wes Baker, Eric Gensheimer, Todd Pasont, Bob Dockendorf, and Juan Brito.

Below, the group of representatives also gathered by the “Women in Aviation Display inside the WEAM main hangar (see below photo).

L to R: Ric Lambart, Aurora Navarro, Daniel Barcena, Tracy Short, Tania Privette, Mike LeGendre, John Signorino, Col. Mario Campos, Eric Gensheimer, Todd Pasont, Juan Brito, Wes Baker, and Bob Dockendorf – we don’t know the helmeted manikin’s name.

 

 

 

Rio Grande Aviation Council – Kickoff Organization Meeting

Organizational Meeting Title on Display Screens at WEAM

The brainchild of two local aviation leaders, Bob Dockendorf and John Keithly, The Rio Grande Aviation Council (RGAC) was put into motion this past weekend at the executive office meeting room of the War Eagles Air Museum (WEAM) at the Doña Ana County International Jetport.

Incidentally, the above photo is of the actual large LED Display screens that were mounted in the War Eagles’ meeting room, but the Rio Grande part was inadvertantly misspelled, leaving the “e” off at the end of Grande.

The two organizers recognized that there was no central or nexus organization through which the area’s many public-interest aviation groups and organizations might express both their legitimate public interests in their common industry, or to work more efficently to help collectively protect those same interests.  In short, the new council would provide a more unified voice for the West Texas and SW New Mexico areas in respect to aviation related issues and interests.

Accordingly, Bob invited the area’s numerous public-interest and non-profit aviation groups to meet together at the WEAM.  At least one or more representatives of each of the local (within a 100 mile radius of El Paso, Texas and Santa Teresa, NM) aviation groups appeared on Saturday, the 6th of April, to help organize this new organization.

Bob and John recommended that the new organization be somewhat amporphous in nature and purposely not be formally structured, rather that it operate without any specific permanent officers or heirarchy.  Its main functions would be to provide a sounding board, brain-storming platform, and a clearing house for the member organizations’ interests.  It would, additionally, help provide a unified collective voice for the members’ common aviation interests.

Attending were: Both the El Paso (215) and Las Cruces (24) Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Squadrons; both the New Mexico State University (NMSU) Air Force ROTC and AROTC units from the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP); The El Paso Daedalians Flight; The El Paso Aviation Association; the El Paso Chapter of the Ninety-Nines (International Organization of Women Pilots); both chapters of the EAA, from Las Cruces (555), and Santa Teresa (1570), NMThe First Aero Squadron Foundation (FASF); the Las Cruces Aviators Club; The several local area High School Junior ROTC units; Air Force Association; the United States Air Force Academy and USAFA Alumni Chapter (USAFA)City of Las Cruces International Airport and the Doña Ana County International Jetport Airport; The Academy of Model Aeronatics; the El Paso Radio Controllers (EPRC – RC Model Airplane Club); The Dust Devil Flying Club, the new UTEP Four Year Aviation and Space Program; and the local Quiet Birdmen (QB).

The representatives of each group discussed their particular assets and current principal needs and goals.

Several other aviation groups were invited, but couldn’t make this intial organizational meeting, but will hopefully participate in future conferences.  Such future gatherings will be held at the WEAM on a quarterly basis.

The following photos show some of those who attended as representatives of their respective aviation groups:

(Any of the below photos may be seen in full high-resolution by simply clicking on them)

Mrs. Mary Dockendorf registers John Adams of the EL Paso Composite Squadron 215 of the CAP.

President Wes Baker of the Las Cruces EAA Chapter 555 parks his Cessna 140 on the ramp in front of the WEAM.

L to R: Col. Mario Campos (Daedalian Society), Juan Brito (EPAA), Fritz Gatlin (EPRC Club), and Tom Holmsley (AMA)

L to R: Todd Parsont (Franklin HS JAFROTC), Ana Donahue (Drone Pilot for the Elephant Butte Irrigation District-EBID), Squadron Commander, Travis McKenzie and Col. Alan Fisher (CAP Squadron 24) line up to sign in for the meeting.

L to R: Ana Donahue (EBID), Todd Parsont (JAFROTC), Presidents Wes Baker (EAA 555) and John Keithly (EAA 1570), Col. Mario Campos (hidden behind) Juan Brito (EPAA).

L to R starting with those sitting with backs to the windows: Travis McKenzie and Mike LeGendre (CAP), Rick King (Santa Teresa Flying Club), Col. Alan Fisher (CAP), Malcolm White (USAFA), John Adams (CAP), Ana Donahue ((EBID), Todd Parsont (JAFROTC), Wes Baker and John Keithly (EAA Presidents), Col. Mario Campos (Daedalians), Juan Brito (EPAA), Fritz Gatlin (EPRC), Tom Holmsley (AMA), (three people with their backs to camera, and L to R) Elliott Werner (EAA), Bob Dockendorf (WEAM) and Didi Shaffer (Chair of the El Paso Chapter of the 99’s).

R to L clockwise: Rick King (Sta. Teresa Flying Club), Col. Alan Fisher (CAP), Malcolm White (USAFA), John Adams (CAP), Ana Donahue (EBID), Todd Parsont (JAFROTC), Wes Baker and John Keithly (EAA), Mike McGee (UTEP), Col. Mario Campos (Daedalians), Mary Dockendorf (WEAM), Juan Brito (EPAA), and Fritz Gatlin (EPRC).

L to R: Ana Donahue (EBID), Todd Parsont (RAFROTC) and Wes Baker (EAA)

L to R: Todd Parsont (JAFROTC), Wes Baker and John Keithly (EAA).

L to R clockwise: Ana Donahue (EBID), Todd Parsont (JAFROTC), Wes Baker (EAA), John Keithly (EAA), Mike McGee (UTEP), Col. Mario Campos (Daedalians), Juan Brito (EPAA), Fritz Gatlin (EPRC).

Clockwise R to L: (only part of his back to camera) Mike McGee (UTEP), Mario Campos (Daedalians), Juan Brito (EPAA), Fritz Gatlin (EPRC), Tom Holmsley (AMA), Tania Privette (LCA), Andy Hume (Las Cruces Int’l. Airport), Didi Shaffer (99’s), Bob Dockendorf (WEAM), Elliott Werner (EAA), Javier Caraveo (USAFA & AFROTC), Travis McKenzie and Mike LeGendre (CAP), and Rick King (Santa Teresa Flying Club).

L to R: John Keithly (EAA 1570), Dr. Mike McGee (UTEP), Col. Mario Campos (Daedalians), and Juan Brito (EPAA).

L to R: Andy Hume (Las Cruces Int’l. Airport), Tania Privette (LCA), and Didi Shaffer (99’s).

                                      Didi Schaffer (Chair of El Paso Chapter of the Ninety-Nines).

Meeting Chairman, Bob Dockendorf, principal organizer of the Rio Grand Aviation Council

USAF ROTC Cadet Captain Ammber Valverde explains the UTEP/NMSU ROTC programs.

RGAC Organizational Meeting Representatives – L to R: John Keithly, Ric Lambart, Travis McKenzie, Mario Campos, Alan Fisher, Mike LeGendre, Mike McGee, Rick King, Elliott Werner, Tania Privette, Andy Hume, Didi Shaffer, Ammber Valverde, Ana Donahue, Javier Cavaveo, Juan Brito, Wes Baker, Todd Parsont, Tom Holmsley, Fritz Gatlin, John Adams, Malcolm White, and Bob Dockendorf.

 

Colonel Lee Retires From the Army and Joins AMAZON.COM!

After 25 years and 8 months of active duty with the US Army, our FASF Trustee, James K. “Jimmy” Lee, has retired from the service.

                                   L to R: Jimmy Lee and Ric Lambart at lunch in El Paso Texas yesterday.

While initially serving on our Board, this native North Carolinian was the Commanding Officer of the University of Texas, El Paso’s (UTEP) Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (AROTC) Battalion, known as the Fighting Miners (see below photos).  To see his more complete and varied background, check out Jimmy’s Biography right here (scroll down the page).

                        Jimmy Adresses his UTEP graduating class of new U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenatnts this Spring.

Just prior to retiring, the Colonel looked at various civilian work opportunities, and was given the most attractive offer by the International Marketing firm, AMAZON.COM.

      Jimmy congratulates one of his new 2nd Lieutenants, Demeatia Jasper, during the UTEP Graduation ceremony.

In his new job as Operation’s Manager, Jimmy supervises some 54 employees and is responsible for efficiently managing one of AMAZON’S major “Fullfillment Centers,” which is what AMAZON calls its major shipping facilities throughout the world.

In his personal life, Jimmy has been an enthusiastic parachutist, which means that on any given weekend you are likely to find him at one of the nearest airports busily jumping – and then busily repacking his parachutes.  He has 96 civilian sport parachute jumps to his credit, excluding 5 while in the Army – so he’s had over 100 jumps altogether. 

The Lees have two young sons; one, now 20, is already away at College and the younger, 17, is in his last year of High School.  Both young men share their Dad’s enthusiasm for both sports and the military, so intend to follow his example in their own upcoming careers.

Earlier this year, Colonel Lee made a special presentation to a group of former military aviators, all also active members of the FASF, the Daedalians, at the local El Paso Club.

We wish Jimmy the best in his new endeavor – – – and are happy to learn that he has every intention of remaining active and of helping us with his leadership skills, as a Trustee with the FASF, as it moves into the future!