Kingsley pilot reaches 3,000 flying hours in F-15 fighter
By Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Shirar, 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 17, 2011
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- Lt. Col. Wes "Pappy" French joined a small cadre of pilots to reach 3,000 hours in an F-15 Eagle, June 8 at Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, Ore. French, an F-15 instructor pilot and 173rd Fighter Wing Chief of Safety crossed that threshold during a routine training mission.
"3000 hours, while somewhat rare, is just another hour number to me," said French. "What's really important is ensuring that I'm not resting on my laurels when instructing students. I have to work every flight to give the student the best instruction I'm capable of."
French spent 10 years in the active duty Air Force before joining the Oregon Air National Guard in 2001. He has held many roles at Kingsley Field, to include F-15 weapons tactics officer, assistant director of operations, aircraft maintenance squadron commander, director of operations and 114th Fighter Squadron Commander.
His diverse roles provided French an overall perspective of the 173rd Fighter Wing and its mission.
"This milestone was made possible by the outstanding maintenance organization we have at the 173rd Fighter Wing. While other units may be struggling with flying all of their lines, we continue to fly a full schedule every day," he added.
French is the fifth pilot from Kingsley Field to achieve this uncommon milestone.
"We have produced a pretty fair percentage of the total 3,000 hour pilots in the world," said French.
The 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls is one of two Oregon Air National Guard wings. The 142nd Fighter Wing is located in Portland, Ore. and conducts an air sovereignty alert mission. The 173rd Fighter Wing is the sole U.S. Air Force F-15 schoolhouse in the Nation.