FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom — The Air Force has offered visitors a chance to see the legendary F-16 Fighting Falcons during the Farnborough International Air Show July 19-25.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon has been a part of the United States Air Force for over 30 years now and has continued to provide support to the nation since then, but while its mission is to provide multi-role support for the United States and allied nations, its mission varies from each of its locations.
“We are a multi-role aircraft- we fly air-to-air and air-to-ground missions,” said Air Force Capt. Jon Flickinger, pilot with the 555th Fighter Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy. “Lately we have been primarily flying close air support missions in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
Air Force pilot Capt. Clayton Bailey, also a pilot currently stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, with the 555th Fighter Squadron, the squadron nick-named “Triple Nickel” because of the three fives resembling three nickels in its squadron name, comments on the variety of missions he’s flown during his 5 years in the Air Force.
“At Aviano where I am now, I work in the weapons office and am the mission planning chief,” said Bailey. “I do all the mission planning for TDY’s and trips- I have to know where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.”
But the captain hasn’t always been a mission planning chief.
“I was last stationed in Korea and it was a lot different there,” said Bailey. “At the 555th, we have the NATO mission and work with all the NATO countries and have a joint, integrated operation. In Korea, while we worked with the Korean air forces, it was a more centralized mission where we’re ready to take the fight north if we have to.”
Now, the captain is helping out the mission at the Farnborough International Air Show, which in his words is a special opportunity.
“We’ve been getting to show off our plane to people from all over the world that have some kind of interest in the F-16 aircraft,” he said. “The interaction with the people is unique.”
But no matter what type of mission he’s supporting, he loves what he does.
“I love flying- it’s the best part of my job, especially when we’re supporting the ground folks and a larger mission,” he added.
There are 2 F-16C Fighting Falcons at the Farnborough International Air Show July 19-25, one of which is a static display for traders, businessmen and visitors to view and ask questions, and the other that takes part in the flying demonstrations. The F-16C’s will stay here for the duration of the air show.