Cadet gets an F-4 flight! Dad celebrates her special day.
Let’s file this in our “How Awesome is this?” file. Cadet 2nd Class (a junior) Kaitlyn recently received an incentive ride in the mighty F-4 Phantom. The F-4 has become a ‘rare’ jet. Getting an incentive flight in an F-4 these days is probably one of the rarest treats for any Air Force member. Our bet is that she is probably the last cadet to ever get a ride in the F-4.
Kaitlyn’s dad, a former F-4 commander himself, was able to watch her flight. Upon her return, he snuck up from behind the jet and ‘christened’ her after her flight in a time-honored tradition.
The 96th Test Group at Hollomon Air Force Base is the only Air Force unit that still flies the F-4, now designated the QF-4, as training targets. They are rapidly ‘expending’ their targets and expect to retire the F-4 in favor of the QF-16 by years end.
What is this Air Force tradition all about?
Dumping water on a pilot after a first flight or fini flight is one of the proud traditions in the Air Force. This tradition typically bookends a pilot’s career from first flight to last flight. In pilot training, student pilots usually paint a dunk tank in their class colors. One by one, Lieutenants are dunked in the tank by their classmates after their first solo. It can be 110 degrees in summer time of 15 degrees in the dead of winter. It doesn’t matter. You still are guaranteed to get wet.
After pilot training, pilots also tend to get a bucket of water dropped on them after their ‘dollar ride’ first flight in a new type of jet. Their fini-flight also unusably entails fire extinguishers filled with water and squirt guns along with hugs by exuberant family and friends.