HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Reservists resumed flying operations here last week after aircraft and personnel from the 419th Fighter Wing and the active duty 388th FW returned from deployments to Europe and Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.
Pilots suited up for routine training flights during the 419th FW’s August Unit Training Assembly weekend, known as the UTA. Reservists work at least one weekend per month and two weeks per year, but are often called to serve more often to meet ongoing requirements and maintain various qualifications.
The 22 pilots assigned to the 419th FW must fly six to eight sorties each month, so they often fly during the week in addition to UTAs.
Most of the wing’s pilots work full time as commercial airline pilots in the civilian sector and, like all reservists, they balance their careers with their military service.
“Our reserve pilots have an extremely high level of service and dedication,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Harrison, F-35 pilot and 466th Fighter Squadron commander. “It takes a lot to maintain ongoing currency, proficiency, and the tactical expertise required to successfully employ the F-35 and accomplish our mission.”
The 419th and 388th FWs are the Air Force’s only combat-capable F-35 units, maintaining the jets in a Total Force partnership that utilizes the strengths of both the Air Force Reserve and active duty. Hill AFB is slated to be home to 78 aircraft by the end of this year.
Hill’s runway was partially closed this summer for a major reconstruction project while the units were deployed. A group of pilots and maintainers from Hill’s fighter wings are still currently deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield.