Tyndall Reserve Airmen reach rare F-22 milestone

Pilots from the 95th and 301st Fighter Squadrons from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly over the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial, France, for a ceremony April 20. The ceremony celebrated the centennial of the Layfayette Escadrille, which was comprised of American volunteer pilots who flew with the French military before and after the United States entered World War I. The monument honors the service of these pilots and serves as the final resting place for some. The 301 FS is a unit under the 44th Fighter Group, which is a classic associate unit at Tyndall. (Courtesy photo)

Pilots from the 95th and 301st Fighter Squadrons from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly over the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial, France, for a ceremony April 20. The ceremony celebrated the centennial of the Layfayette Escadrille, which was comprised of American volunteer pilots who flew with the French military before and after the United States entered World War I. The monument honors the service of these pilots and serves as the final resting place for some. The 301 FS is a unit under the 44th Fighter Group, which is a classic associate unit at Tyndall. (Courtesy photo)

NAVAL AIR STATION FORT WORTH JOINT RESERVE BASE, Texas -- Few people get to fly an Air Force fighter jet. Even fewer have flown the F-22 Raptor. And, even more rare are Reserve Airmen, Majors Bryan Dick and Robert Ice who have reached the 1,000-hour flying mark in the Raptor.

Flying 1,000 hours equates to a pilot sitting in a fighter jet for 41 days and 16 hours.

Fewer than 20 Air Force F-22 pilots have reached this milestone.

“This is an interesting circumstance because 1,000-hour F-22 pilots are rare”, said Lt. Col. Randy Cason, 44th Fighter Group commander. “And we have two pilots.”

Ice, a pilot with the 301st Fighter Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, reached the milestone while in Air Force Weapons School May 3.

“My 1,000-hour flight was no different than any other,” said Ice, who began flying the F-22 in 2008. “But what was great was getting surprised on the ramp afterwards. I had no idea that anyone else knew. It was a great feeling to see how many people took time from their busy schedules to surprise and congratulate me.”

Before flying the Raptor, Ice flew the F-15C Eagle for three years where he acquired 450 flying hours.

“Most of the missions that F-15C and F-22 fly are similar, so the major difference lies in low observable qualities of the F-22,” said Ice. “Your capabilities are significantly increased when the adversary has a difficult time detecting you.”

Dick, the 301 FS assistant director of operations, reached the mark two weeks earlier than Ice while flying the Trans-Atlantic route from Tyndall to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom.

“The flight was the smoothest ocean crossing I’ve ever experienced out of multiple trips across the Atlantic and the Pacific,” he said. “I was seven hours into my flight to the United Kingdom when I hit the 1,000-hour mark.”

“We had great jets and blue skies the entire way,” Dick said of his nine-hour flight across the Atlantic.

Similar to Ice, Dick flew the F-15 for two-and-a-half years clocking 540 hours in the aircraft.

“The Eagle will always be my first love,” said Dick about flying the F-15C, which has been operational in the Air Force for more than four decades. “It is and always will be an amazing air superiority fighter.”

He continued, “However, nothing comes close to the F-22 when it comes to its stealth, speed, maneuverability and lethality. The Raptor gives us back that edge and allows us to once again be unrivaled in the air superiority fight.”

The 44th Fighter Group is a classic associate unit with the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall.