With the landing of a freshly special painted Tornado, the German Air Force Flying Training Center completed 55,555 Tornado flight hours at Holloman AFB, NM, October 13th, 2009, and a reception commemorating the accomplishment shortly followed.
German Air Force members shared the momentous occasion with the 49th Fighter Wing by inviting the wing commander to accompany the GAF FTC commander in the flight.
Where? Holloman AFB, NM
"It's a real honor for me to have been invited to be a part of this ceremony," said Col. Jeff Harrigian, 49th FW commander. "Fundamentally, this is in appreciation of all the hard work that the German Flying Training Center has undergone for the last several years for this accomplishment to occur and for them to allow me to be a part of it is really an honor."
The sharing of the flight was a gesture that exemplified the continued friendship between the two nations.
"[The 55,555 flight hour] is based on friendship with the community, friendship with Holloman and a lot of dedication and professionalism of our men and women of the flying training center," said Col. Peter Klement, GAF FTC commander. "Certainly this occasion could not be possible no matter how hard we worked, no matter how dedicated we are, if it wasn't for our friends at Holloman Air Force Base and our friends in the community of Alamogordo."
The German Tornado that the two commanders made the historic feat in received a unique paint job before the flight and everyone who attended the reception got to witness it up close as they taxied right in front of the event.
Celebrating - and flying - the 55.555th Flight Hour of a Holloman Tornado
"The commander held a competition to choose the best art design concept," said Tina McClain, artist for the 55,555 ceremonial Tornado and painter for the GAF Tornado aircraft.
Senior Airman Kiro Pinter of the GAF FTC won with his plan to have an animated picture of a cartoon-like blue clock running through the side of the Tornado, representing the continuance of the mission -- "to keep it going!"
Ms. McClain said it took five weeks, ironically, to paint the aircraft.
"Flying in this airplane which is painted up in this spectacular fashion was very cool," said Colonel Harrigian after the flight.
All in all, the new paint job, the flight and the celebration marked an accomplishment that was more than 13 years in the making, and Colonel Klement hopes that the 55,555 flight hour is only the midway mark of the GAF FTC's flight hours here. (text taken from HO website http://www.holloman.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123172680)
The main idea of the patchwork special scheme on Tornado 45+99 originates from the Transformer movie, which was partly shot at Holloman AFB. Most prominent in the scheme is the tail that shows the Organ Montains on the right side and White Sands National Monumentand the landscape of Sierra Blancaon the left side, both locations being on the Eastern, respectively Western side of Holloman AFB representative of the major landmarks around the Tularosa Basin . A nice detail on the right is furthermore a small UFO from nearby Roswell and two green Alien pilots :) More details are a clock below the cockpit showing 55.555 hours, and it is still counting on. Furthermore the German national colours are shining through the wings and the belly is featuring the New Mexican flag combined with the Luftwaffe's Iron Cross, representing the FT's emblem.
Details of s/c Tornado 45+99
More information and photos can also be found on Luftwaffe's website news topic about the 55.555th Flight Hour. (http://www.luftwaffe.de/portal/a/luftwaffe/aktu/nach/archiv/2009/okt?yw_contentURL=/01DB060000000001/W27WYJLK092INFODE/content.jsp)
Additionally to the festivities of the 55.555 flight hours of Luftwaffe's FTC Tornados in the afternoon that day I have had the possibility to photograph also the regular Tornados at Holloman. Many thanks go out to all of the German Team at Holloman who gave me such a nice reception and enabled all these photos. Dankeschön!!
daily business at Holloman - GAF FTC
Of course a visit to Holloman would not be complete without a visit to the White Sands National Monument, preferably during sunset, which is the best time of the day to capture this wonderfull landscape, formed by white snow dunes and covered in magic light: