SC ANG pilot posts 4,000 hours
By TSgt. Caycee Cook, 169th FW/PA
/ Published June 07, 2012
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Lt. Col. Scott "Cleetus" Bridgers recently joined the elite class of F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots to cross the 4000-hour flying threshold, stepping to his aircraft with nearly 3,996 hours in the seat of a Viper and landing with 4,000.5.
Bridgers is deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He achieved the aviation milestone while providing armed overwatch for troops in contact with enemy ground forces.
"I was honored to be able to reach my 4000th hour in the Viper during a contingency operation, supporting the coalition forces on the ground." Said Bridgers.
After graduating F-16 pilot training at McDill AFB in 1992, Bridgers completed active duty assignments at Shaw and Osan Air Force Bases before joining the 157th Fighter Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in 1999. He has flown 2,391 F-16 sorties; 166 of them amounted to more than 720 combat hours.
Bridgers' landmark sortie makes him the third McEntire pilot to reach such a significant achievement in his career. He has deployed and flown in four Operation Southern Watch assignments, twice in support of Operation Northern Watch as well as twice each for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
He is an Instructor Pilot, and he currently serves as the 169th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander at McEntire.
"Over here in Afghanistan, I'm just a fighter pilot again," he said. "At home, I don't fly as much because of my role as the AMXS Commander and the challenges that come with leading such a busy squadron."
Bridgers said he enjoys flying such a multi-role aircraft. "Working with the F-16 and being able to fly several different missions, with air-to-air or air-ground capabilities, is challenging. And that's what I enjoy ... having to remain proficient for the numerous operations we might support."
Though he already has set his sights on his next viper milestone of 5,000 flying hours, Bridgers' said his main focus once he returns to McEntire will be leading the AMXS and being a good officer and leader to his Airmen.