By Capt. Anthony L. Bucci
New York National Guard
SYRACUSE, N.Y., (8/9/09) - August 8th 2009 marked a significant achievement in the career of a highly decorated and skilled aviator, who in his words "never had a job" during his Air Force career.
Lt. Col. D. Scott Brenton of the 174th Fighter Wing based here at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, joined the very exclusive 4,000 flying hour club when tail number 86-0249 touched down at 11:15 a.m.
"I have often joked that I have never considered doing what I do as a job," said Brenton. "For me, being a pilot in the F-16 is the best occupation anyone could ever have. I absolutely love it! The thrill I feel taking-off is the same for me today as it was on my very first take-off. It is absolutely fantastic!".
Brenton became only the 25th F-16 pilot in the world and only the 22nd American pilot to pass this astonishing milestone.
As a student in undergraduate pilot training, Lt. Col. Brenton finished at the top of his class earning the "Commander's Trophy" as well as getting his first choice of aircraft.
At the time, the F-15 Eagle was the most coveted choice, but Brenton wanted to fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon or "Viper" as pilots refer to the aircraft.
The reason was simple: He wanted to fly a fighter that would perform any kind of mission; be it air-to-air or air-to-ground.
"I wanted to do it all," said Brenton. "Selecting the F-16 was the best decision I ever made, because the F-16 challenges me with every fighter mission the Air Force performs. Whether it's air-to-air, air-to-ground, close air support ... I have had to learn each one of these missions and perform them in combat throughout the world."
Brenton acknowledged the importance of the support he received throughout his career by all those associated with the maintenance of the F-16, as well as the incredible support he received from his wife and two daughters.
"I wish I could take all three of them up with me to experience what I do, because they are the reason that I can," said Brenton.
He recognized members of the 174FW Maintenance Group, who in his words, "are the best maintenance professionals in the U. S. Air Force."
He said he could always be confident that when that crew chief saluted him and turned over responsibility of the aircraft, that he was getting the finest F-16 in the U.S. Air Force's inventory.
"It has been a privilege to fly this aircraft and to be associated with some great people who have helped and supported me throughout my entire career," he said.
Brenton's career spans more than 21 years, including 14 on active duty. He joined the 174FW in 2002 after working as an instructor for the Weapons Instructor Course, the U.S. Air Force's "Top Gun" school for fighter pilots at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. He has flown combat missions in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq.
By Capt. Anthony L. Bucci
New York National Guard
SYRACUSE, N.Y., (8/9/09) - Launching and recovering aircraft are part of a crew chief's responsibility. Having your final assignment be a pilot's 4,000 flying hour flight is an unbelievable coincidence.
On Aug. 8, Senior Master Sgt. Chris McDonald, the 174th Fighter Wing's aircraft maintenance supervisor, launched and recovered Lt. Col. D. Scott Brenton's F-16 enabling him to share in this illustrious milestone.
McDonald will retire on Aug. 12 and perform his last day as a federal employee of the 174FW sometime in mid-September. He has served faithfully for nearly 33 years in the Air National Guard starting his career in the District of Columbia. He has served 10 tours of duty in a combat environment, including Operation Desert Storm in 1991, as well as every deployment for training the unit has went on with exception of the last in April 2009.
"I remember boarding the aircraft as we were deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, when Major Gen. (Ret.) Robert A. Knauff, the New York Air National Guard commander, said to me, 'Chris, why is it that I always see you on every deployment that this unit in involved with,'" McDonald said with a smile.
He graduated high school in 1976 and found work in the restaurant industry, while also performing some landscaping jobs. It was a good friend of his that told him he should join the D.C. Air National Guard and in 1977. He went off to basic training that year and then to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, where he completed the aircraft maintenance course for one and two jet engines eventually working as an aero repair specialist on the F-105 Thunderchief.
During his career, he has worked on the F-4, T-43, T-39, T-43, A-10, F-16 Block 15, 30, 25 and then the 30 again.
McDonald said he has had a very satisfying career, and he is looking at a new career with the University of Rochester as part of their maintenance staff.
"The reason I was hired for this position ... was because of my military experience, because the Air National Guard trained and gave me all of the necessary skills that I needed, as well as the core values that made me attractive to my future employer," said McDonald.
McDonald will not be assigned here when the 174FW begins flying combat air patrols with the MQ-9 Reaper this November, as well as in March 2010 when the last F-16s leave the field.
He said he would like to watch the last F-16s leave as that will be a sad day for him.
"Part of me has left with the F-16," McDonald said. "As a crew chief, I salute the pilot to release the aircraft to them, while letting them know that they are leaving with a good jet. When he returns that salute he is telling me that he will take good care of it and returns it back safely. There is that kind of trust between the crew chief and the pilot. I will definitely miss that."