173rd FW to conduct two weeks of night flying operations Published Jan. 15, 2016 KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- The 173rd Fighter Wing will conduct night flying operations beginning next week, Jan. 19-22 and continuing the following week Jan. 26-28. Operations will take place approximately 4 p.m. through 10:00 p.m. Night flying is one part of the course curriculum for F-15C student pilots at Kingsley Field, the premiere F-15C schoolhouse for the United States Air Force. "We recognize and truly appreciate the exceptional support the 173rd FW receives year in and year out from the Klamath Falls community," said Col. Kirk Pierce, commander of the173rd FW. "With that in mind, we want to ensure the community understands why we have to perform F-15 training operations outside of our normal flying window. As the sole F-15 training unit for the United States Air Force, it is imperative that our student pilots leave Kingsley Field prepared to effectively employ the F-15, day or night." The majority of the training will occur in the military operating airspace to the east of Lakeview, where the pilots can fly without lights. However, the community will most likely hear the jets during take-offs and approaches to and from Kingsley Field. Take-offs will occur after sundown and the jets will return approximately an hour and a half later. "Night flying is absolutely essentially to training F-15 pilots," said Lt. Col. Jeff Edwards, 173rd Operations Group commander. "Whether defending the homeland or deployed in contingency operations, F-15 pilots must be proficient at night flying. Night flying training includes the full spectrum of skills needed to be a combat-ready F-15 pilot. On their first night mission, students fly with an instructor pilot in their rear cockpit, and they practice takeoffs/landings, air-to-air refueling, use of night vision goggles, and basic intercepts. On their subsequent night missions, students fly solo as #2 in a 2-ship formation and practice tactical intercepts, which simulate realistic night air combat scenarios." Community members may contact the wing's public affairs office at 541-885-6677 to express any concerns they have during this time.