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German fliers achieve 55,555 flight hours at Holloman

by Airman 1st Class Sondra Escutia
49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/20/2009 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- With the landing of a specially painted Tornado aircraft, airmen at the German air force Flying Training Center here completed 55,555 Tornado flight hours Oct. 13, and a reception commemorating the accomplishment followed.

German air force members shared the momentous occasion with Airmen from the 49th Fighter Wing by inviting the wing commander to accompany the GAF FTC commander in the flight.

"It's a real honor for me to have been invited to be a part of this ceremony," said Col. Jeff Harrigian, 49th FW commander. "Fundamentally, this is in appreciation of all the hard work that the German Flying Training Center has undergone for the last several years for this accomplishment to occur and for them to allow me to be a part of it is really an honor."

The sharing of the flight was a gesture that exemplified the continued friendship between the two nations.

"(The accomplishment) is based on friendship with the community, friendship with Holloman and a lot of dedication and professionalism of our men and women of the flying training center," said Col. Peter Klement, GAF FTC commander. "Certainly this occasion could not be possible no matter how hard we worked, no matter how dedicated we are, if it wasn't for our friends at Holloman Air Force Base and our friends in the community of Alamogordo."

The German Tornado that the two commanders flew during the historic feat received a unique paint job before the flight and everyone who attended the reception got to view it up close as the aircraft taxied past.

"The commander held a competition to choose the best art design concept," said Tina McClain, the artist who painted the GAF Tornado aircraft.

Senior Airman Kiro Pinter of the GAF FTC won with his design that featured a cartoon-like blue clock running through the side of the Tornado, representing the continuance of the mission "to keep it going!"

Ms. McClain said it took five weeks, ironically, to paint the aircraft.

The underside of the aircraft was painted with the New Mexico flag design. On the left side of the tail was a landscape of Sierra Blanca mountains and on the right side of the tail is depicted the Organ Mountains. These are representative of the major landmarks around the local area.

"Flying in this airplane which is painted up in this spectacular fashion was very cool," said Colonel Harrigian after the flight.

All in all, the new paint job, the flight and the celebration marked an accomplishment that was more than 13 years in the making, and Colonel Klement hopes that the 55,555 flight hour is only the midway mark of the GAF FTC's flight hours flown here.

"For the next years to come, we hope to be guests here on base with the same friendship we see from the community and the base," he said.

On behalf of the 49th FW, Colonel Harrigian congratulated the German's on a job well done.

"It really goes to show you that together we have put together a team that accomplishes a tremendous variety of missions that are important to our nation," Colonel Harrigian said. "I thank them for allowing us to be a part of this."

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