Tyndall Airmen dominate flying ops at night

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Solomon Cook
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

After the intense warmth of the Florida heat lessens with the setting of the sun, the sound of maintainers shouting “A-P-U,” and the starting of F-22 Raptor engines can still be heard well into the night.

The 325th Fighter Wing recently flew night missions to stay proficient in all conditions.

Airmen from maintenance, security forces, operations support and many others worked together to ensure that the pilots at Tyndall AFB are trained, prepared and protected while conducting night operations when needed.

“The bottom line on night flying is that we are tasked to be ready to support combat operations directly – daytime, night time and even in less than ideal weather conditions,” said Maj. Joshua Biedermann, 95th Fighter Squadron director of operations. “To do that, we have to train at night periodically throughout the year. For a typical pilot we need to get 15 night flights. This is something we can’t do all at once, so we spread it out throughout the year.”

From the ground up, all involved need to have the capability to work together regardless of time of day and adverse weather conditions.

“Without the maintainers there is no night mission, we wouldn’t have any aircraft to fly,” Biedermann said. “That’s everything from generating the jets for us to takeoff, manning the hot pit refueling, fixing aircraft and helping us trouble shoot or possibly switch out a part. They help maximize our training by getting us good aircraft and fixing aircraft so we can do it again the next night.”

With low visibility in the night hours, the pilots from the 95th FS must maintain a heightened sense of awareness while traveling down the runway at speeds upward of 180 miles per hour.

“It’s a time of day that can be very dangerous if you are not proficient at it,” Biedermann said. “The 325th Operations Support Squadron tower and radar approach control sections are very important for us. They help us at night especially with the weather. They de-conflict aircraft and provide efficient flow to and from the air space, which is important for all of our fuel planning. When pilots come back and land at night everyone is flying in on instrument approach, so it is a higher task load for RAPCON as they are bringing fighters back in.”

To aid in the situational awareness of the pilots while on the ground and while airborne, air traffic controllers from the 325th OSS work tirelessly through the night to guarantee everyone’s safety.

“Doing night flying training at Tyndall means that we will be able to fight at night,” said Airman 1st Class John Dashiell, 325th OSS air traffic controller. “The biggest difficulty with night flying is that all you can see is the lights on the aircraft. This makes determining the distance harder, but we have the radar and other instruments to help us out.”

 Whether it be maintenance, security, air traffic control or flying, the Airmen of Tyndall ensure the Raptors are ready to fight, no matter the time of day.