Getting Personal: Marking a milestone
Lt. Col. Houstoun Waring, 41, last week etched his name into Air Force history by accumulating his 3,000th hour in an F-15E fighter jet during a sortie from RAF Lakenheath.
When he’s not busy raising his nine children, the Carbondale, Ill., native serves as the 48th Operations Support Squadron commander. The 23-year Air Force veteran sat down with Stars and Stripes recently to chat about his accomplishment and his career.
Three thousand hours is obviously a major accomplishment. Can you think back to where you notched your first hour?
Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. I was the first 2nd lieutenant to fly the F-15E. It was April of 1990, and I was privileged to be there at the beginning.
What makes the E model superior to its predecessors?
The E is a multi-role fighter. Air-to-air mission, air superiority and close air support. It can do it all.
And where did you hit the 1,000-hour mark?
I was at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.
And the 2,000th hour?
I was a captain here at RAF Lakenheath with the 494th Fighter Squadron.
Is 4,000 hours achievable?
I highly doubt it. It’s highly unlikely. Age overcomes you before you can be in the cockpit that long.
Out of all those hours, do you have one that is especially extraordinary or that you will remember when you leave the Air Force someday?
The first night of Desert Storm. By the time the triple-A (anti-aircraft artillery) is going over your canopy, you realize there’s no more time to prepare. If you don’t know by then, it’s too late when combat comes.
I recently had the chance to fly with an F-15 and learned about the plane’s incredible kill ratio, 104 kills to 0 losses. What can you attribute to such a sterling record?
It’s the fact that our pilots don’t accept anything less than perfection. We hold our standards incredibly high, and when we do make mistakes we go out and improve on ourselves. But there’s not a single thing we could do without the maintenance folks who support us. Without all the eyes, ears, fingers and toes, it would not be possible to make this ballet happen.
— Bryan Mitchell