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NEWS | Feb. 20, 2014

Virginia Air Guard F-22 pilot soars past 1,000 hours

By Capt. Craig Carper 192nd Fighter Wing

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (2/20/14) - Lieutenant Colonel Mike "BOK" Schaner made Air National Guard history recently when he flew an F-22 Raptor mission over the skies of Virginia.

During that sortie, Schaner earned the distinction of becoming the first Air National Guard pilot to fly more than 1,000 hours in the cockpit of the stealth fighter.

BOK began his career with the regular Air Force, where he served until 2009. Rather than discontinuing his military service, he transferred to the Virginia Air National Guard so he could continue to exercise his passion for aviation.

Schaner's love of flying came at an early age.

"I knew I wanted to fly since I was three; it made my life a little easier and certainly more focused," Schaner said. His fifth grade teacher recommended he look at the Air Force to pursue his goal. He followed that advice and over the years turned his lifelong ambition into reality.

After graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Schaner joined the Air Force in 1999, attended USAF pilot training and served as an F-15 pilot prior to transitioning to the F-22.

He currently serves as the assistant director of operations for the 149th Fighter Squadron where he oversees training requirements for the squadron's pilots, ensuring they are trained and ready to deploy when needed.

In this role, Schaner works closely with the 192d's Total Force partner, the 1st Fighter Wing.

As a graduate of the USAF's Weapons Instructor Course, BOK brings invaluable experience to F-22 community and continues to perform instructor and evaluator pilot duties for the Langley Total Force.

According to Col. William Butz, 192d Operations Group commander, "BOK is the go-to guy for the F-22. He is the resident expert here at Langley on systems, tactics and the conduit to a robust relationship with active duty."

Schaner's success in bringing the Guard and regular Air Force together comes from his depth of experience and understanding of both Air Force components. His active duty experience as an F-15C/F-22A fighter pilot and F-22A test and evaluation pilot coupled with his time and accomplishments in the Guard provide a unique and extremely valuable skill set that clearly displays the synergies and strengths of the total force partnership between the National Guard and the Regular Air Force.

The Virginia Air Guard's 192d Fighter Wing moved to Langley AFB in 2007 under the Air Force's Total Force Integration program. In the Langley association, Virginia Air National Guardsman and their active duty partners serve side-by-side to meet the F-22's air dominance mission requirements.

The TFI program at Langley serves as the benchmark in the Air Force on how things should be done, and the work of airmen like BOK Schaner clearly demonstrate the strength of the total force concept. "The teaming relationship between these two groups has never been stronger. This is the absolute right way to meet mission requirements and maximize resources," Butz said.

The total force partnership between the 1st and 192d Fighter Wings extends throughout the F-22 operation at Langley, touching all aspects of maintenance and operations. According to Schaner, the team concept of active duty and the Air Guard is "why we are so successful here at Langley. Our behind the scenes guys from the flight line to back shops get the job done! They ensure the jets speed, stealth, and maneuverability is ready to meet mission requirements."

Countless hours go into maintaining this fifth-generation fighter jet, and the total force maintenance effort is what keeps the F-22 mission ready. "We could not do what we do in the air without the maintainers and support staff doing the awesome job they do each and every day on the ground," said Schaner. "Surpassing 1k hours in the cockpit of the Raptor was no easy feat. 'Stick' time in the F-22 is in high demand. With a limited number of F-22's in the fleet, we all strive to get in the air and sharpen our skills as much as we can," said Schaner.

"I am fortunate to work with the professionals I do here at Langley," concluded Schaner, "the Raptor is the premier jet in the Air Force and achieving this personal milestone is truly a testament to the aircraft and the people that support it."