May 22, 2008

Virginia Guard Raptor pilots take to the skies for the first time during drill weekend

By Tech. Sgt. James R Orbin
192nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

An F-22 Raptor from the Virginia National Guard's 192nd Fighter Wing takes off from langley Air Force Base May 17. It was the first time Airmen from the 192nd FW took the skies in the state-of-the-art F-22 during a drill weekend. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

There is a new warrior defending the Virginia skies at Langley Air Force Base, especially on weekends. Pilots from the Virginia Guard’s 192nd Fighter Wing took to the sky in state-of-the-art F-22 Raptors for the first time during a drill weekend, May 17.

Pilots from the 192nd have been training in and flying the F-22s for some time, but this was the first time they flew as part of their normal drill weekend operations.

Across a backdrop of blue skies, Lt. Col. William J. Butz, took the first F-22 wheels off the ground, making history for the 192nd. A total of four F-22s and an F-16 took to the air for dissimilar combat tactics training.

After an hour, the aircraft returned to base. Disembarking from his aircraft, Butz' smile stretched from ear to ear, “It was a great feeling,” he said. “Three years of training on the F-22, and the move from Richmond was long, but worth it. We have closed another chapter and we are moving on to better and brighter things, and I am happy to be a part of it.”

Richmond became home for Virginia’s air defense in 1947. Throughout the years, many things changed, to include unit names, commanders, and even aircraft. In 2004, the 192nd was directed to relocate to Langley Air Force base and work alongside the 1st Fighter Wing. The F-16 Fighting Falcons flown by the 192d were transfered  to other units.

Total Force Integration (TFI) is the newest model of defending the nation and Virginia. The 192nd and the First Fighter Wing at Langley are among the first to join active duty and guardsmen in an associate capacity.The rest of the Air Force and especially Air Combat Command is observing the change. “It is a new way of doing business here and throughout the Air Force,” Butz said.

So if you hear the roar of a Raptor scraping the sky above on a weekend, rest assure that the 192nd Fighter Wing of the Virginia Air National Guard is back in business, protecting and defending its citizens of the Commonwealth, just as in 1607 the English colonists defended Jamestown. The unit continues its rich legacy as it begins writing a new chapter in its history.

Click HERE to return to the top of the page ~ Click HERE to return to the news directory