Another Phantom Finale

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - -- Vinnie "Snake" Farrell flew his final F-4 Phantom sortie May 20, and will soon become one of only 10 QF-16 pilots in the United States Air Force.

After graduating from the USAF Academy in 1983, Farrell completed pilot training and became a first assignment instructor pilot. After three years of teaching, he was selected to be an F-4 fighter pilot.

Farrell's F-4 assignments took him to California, the Philippines, New Mexico and saw him flying F-4G Wild Weasel in missions Operation Desert Storm F-4G Wild Weasel missions out of Shaikh Isa Air Base, Bahrain. His active duty Air Force career also included an assignment as the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron Commander at Tyndall where he first flew the "Q" variant of the F-4.

Although Farrell retired as a colonel in 2008 after 25 years of active duty service, but his time flying the Phantom was not complete.

The QF-4 replaced the QF-106 as the Department of Defense's only full scale aerial target in 1996 which meant that an Air Force unit was still flying F-4 missions. Retirement from active duty brought Farrell back to the 82nd ATRS, and he has flown QF-4 aircraft as a contractor and government civilian since 2008. Now, as May 2015 draws to a close, the Air Force is fielding another new FSAT: the QF-16. Farrell is scheduled to attend F-16 formal training in June 2015. By July, Farrell is slated to be the newest QF-16 qualified pilot in the United States Air Force.

"I've enjoyed every one of my almost 3,000 hours in the F-4 and QF-4 but after 31 years of waiting for a chance to fly the F-16, I'm excited for the new challenge and opportunity," said Farrell.

Lt. Col. Ryan Inman, 82nd ATRS commander, congratulated Farrell and offered, "I'm 100 percent certain that Vinnie will love the window in his new office; the unrestricted views from the F-16's bubble canopy."

The 82nd ATRS is part of the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group and falls under the 53rd Wing at Eglin. The group provides the personnel, infrastructure and capability to test and evaluate weapons utilized by the combat air forces of the United States and its allies. The 82nd ATRS and their detachment at Holloman AFB, New Mexico operates the only FSAT capability in the DOD and supports testing for all U.S. military branches.