173rd Fighter Wing says thank you to spouses in unique "ride of a lifetime"

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing
Twenty spouses of 173rd Fighter wing Airmen climbed into the back seat of an F-15 aircraft for a "hot taxi" down the runway on the morning of family day at Kingsley Field, Oct. 4, 2015.

The event served as a morale builder, helping family members see firsthand the result of their loved one's efforts.

"It's a little tough logistically but the morale value makes it worth it," said Col. Jeffrey Smith, 173rd Maintenance Group commander.

The event organizer, Senior Master Sgt. Brian Stroup, said the idea was to showcase the excellent work the maintenance group does day-in and day-out.

"I'm very proud of what we do and wanted to share the experience across the entire maintenance group," added Stroup.

The morning began with each rider getting suited up and then attending a pre-flight brief to familiarize them with getting into the aircraft.

Following the training wives, husbands, and pilots stepped to the jets. Pilots went through their preflight routines, just like any sortie, and crew chiefs readied jets for roll-out. With engines spooled up, the crew chief marshaled the jet out of parking and saluted the pilot and spouse in the back seat.

The jets rolled down the taxi-way to the main runway where they kicked on the afterburner for a short blast which often lifted the nose to the sky before settling back to a roll-out.

With the relatively large wing surface and powerful engines, pilots have to keep their Eagles on a short leash; anything beyond a short burst of afterburner would put the aircraft in the air and that is not permitted for this activity. Even so, the riders said they got a taste of the power of the aircraft and for the work that their significant others' do on a daily basis.

"What an amazing day!" said Tracy Ricketts. "Thank you to all of the people who made it possible for me to see firsthand how many exceptionally talented personnel contribute to the success of Kingsley. After 14 years, I am so proud to be a part of such a wonderful base where family and community are clearly valued so much."