Making 4K in F-16

South Dakota Air National Guardsman Lt. Col. Gary Middlebrooks amassed 4,000 flying hours in an F-16 during a close air support sortie over Iraq Feb. 5. Middlebrooks, deployed from the 114th Fighter Wing, is the 33rd F-16 pilot to have reached 4,000 hours, according to Lockheed Martin’s David Hill. According to Maj. Eric Gerber, also deployed from the 114th FW, even in wartime, Air Guard pilots generally “accumulate 150-200 hours of flight time annually, which makes it extremely difficult ever to achieve such a significant accomplishment.” For his part, Middlebrooks said, “I never expected to be able to keep flying this long, so it has been a real pleasure and joy for me.” He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1984 and served 15 years on active duty before transferring to the Air Guard. (Joint Base Balad, Iraq, report by Capt. Byron Coward)