Military Aviation

Triple Nickel Commander eclipses rare 3,000 flying hour milestone in the F-16 Viper

“Reaching 3,000 hours in the Viper is pretty rare these days so it’s definitely a career highlight. That being said, I love flying and I love flying the F-16, so any milestone accomplishment is a highlight,” Lt. Col. Beau Diers, 555th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron Commander.

Did you know: reaching 3,000 flight hours is equivalent to spending approximately four months in the cockpit?

Triple Nickel commander, Lt. Col. Beau Diers, has recently completed his 3,000th flight hour in an F-16 Fighting Falcon while deployed at Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Apr. 6, 2020 sortie pushed Diers to an achievement that, prior to his flight, only 292 pilots have accomplished in the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

“Achieving 3,000 flight hours in any aircraft is a worthy accomplishment,” said Brig. Gen. John Walker, 378th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “Hitting that milestone, while also serving as a fighter squadron commander in combat is icing on the cake.”

“Reaching 3,000 hours in the Viper is pretty rare these days so it’s definitely a career highlight,” Diers said. “That being said, I love flying and I love flying the F-16, so any milestone accomplishment is a highlight.”

Diers went on to articulate that accumulating hours is actually a slower process than some would expect.

“F-16 pilots typically accumulate one to 1.5 flight hours per sortie, while at home station,” said Diers. “Hours build much faster on contingency operations like the ones we are conducting from Prince Sultan Air Base.”

“This feat in a single seat fighter where you are usually only airborne for an hour and fifteen minutes per flight is a really big deal,” Walker added. “It underscores his level of selflessness and dedication to accomplishing the mission.”

Lt. Col. Beau Diers, 555 Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander, taxies his F-16 Fighting Falcon on the flightline at Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, April 6, 2020.

As told by Tech Sgt. Michael.Charles, 378th Air Expeditionary Wing, in the article 555EFS commander hits 3,000 flying hour milestone, Diers has deployed six times and flown the majority of his 1,355.5 combat hours in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility. He attributed his ability to accumulate the historic amount of flight hours to the support he receives from his family.

“My family deserves more credit than they often get,” said Diers. “I certainly couldn’t do this job without their love and support. They sacrifice a lot of time, weekends, holidays, birthdays and anniversaries in order for me to maintain mission ready status and deploy when required.”

He also took time to recognize the Airmen assigned to the aircraft maintenance unit that selflessly serve to ensure the jets are mission ready.

“The Triple Nickel Aircraft Maintenance Unit, as well as AMUs from my past squadrons, are dedicated professionals who continually produce safe and reliable jets,” Diers added. “Air Force pilots are fortunate to have the world’s best maintainers. In my career, I’ve flown combat missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya and never once have I been concerned about a jet’s status, our AMUs never fail to produce the most lethal and survivable aircraft on earth..”

Upon landing from the mission, Airmen who served under him at the 555 EFS greeted him at the aircraft and presented him a certificate commemorating the accomplishment.

“I’m grateful to have reached this milestone in combat with the men and women of the World Famous Highly Respected Triple Nickel,” said Diers. “While I got to fly past 3,000 hours, it’s mainly because of the sacrifice and dedication of others. They deserve all the credit. Once Green…”

An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 555th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron parks on the runway at Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, April 6, 2020.

Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Michael Charles / U.S. Air Force

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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