Military Aviation

Meet Belgian Air Component Captain Steven “Vrieske” De Vries, the first non-US F-16 pilot to clock 5,000 hours in the Viper

Three other Viper drivers flew with “Vrieske” during his record flight on Friday Mar. 5, 2021. All four together flew more than 16,000 hours on F-16, which is also unique in the world.

Forty-eight-year old Captain Steven “Vrieske” De Vries from Belgian Air Component is the first F-16 pilot outside the US to clock, 5,000 hours on the mighty Viper, Alert5 reports.

De Vries, has been a member of the Belgian Air Component since 1990 where he flies with the 31st “Tigers” Squadron at Kleine Brogel Air Base, has built up his 5,000 flying hours record on F-16 during operational training missions and operational deployment abroad.

After forming F-16 combat pilots with the Blegian Air Component Operational Conversion Unit, in 1995 he started his operational career in the former 23 ‘Devil’ Smalpart at Kleine-Brogel. There he got his first ‘ 1000 flight hour s’ on the Viper. After the dissolution of this narrow part in 2002, “Vrieske” moved to the 31 ‘ Tiger ‘ Squadron, also in Kleine Brogel, where he reached the consecutive milestones of 2,000, 3,000 and 4,000 Hours prior to the 5,000 flight hours milestone on the F-16.

Three other Viper drivers (“MARIO” from 10 Tactical Wing (WTac) at Kleine Brogel and two pilots from the 2 WTac at Florennes: “HARPIC” and “STEPH”) flew with “Vrieske” during his record flight on Friday Mar. 5, 2021. All four together flew more than 16,000 hours on F-16, which is also unique in the world.

According to F-16.net, the first F-16 pilot in the world to surpass the 3K mark was another Belgian Air Component pilot, the now retired Belgian pilot Cdt. Jean-Marie “Toutou” Toussaint. He reached this milestone on Oct. 21, 1992, only four years after he surpassed the 2,000 milestone.

In other news, on Feb. 25, 2021 the special painted D-Day Stripes F-16AM departed Kleine Brogel to go for maintenance and being repainted into the standard grey color.

Photo credit: Belgian Air Component and Andrew Timmerman from Finn Aviation Photography

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET  YOURS.  F-16CM Fighting Falcon 20th Fighter Wing, 77th Fighter Squadron “Gamblers”, SW/94-0044 – Shaw AFB, SC
Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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