Military News

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Beale conducts 'fini' flight for MC-12W Liberty

by Airman 1st Class Jessica B. Nelson
9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

9/17/2015 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Beale Airmen conducted a "fini" flight in the MC-12W Liberty at Beale Air Force Base, California, Sept. 16, 2015.

A fini flight is an aviation tradition that can be traced back to the Vietnam War era.  It honors aircrew members or an aircraft model in a final flight at a particular location.

Airmen from the 427th Reconnaissance Squadron, 306th Intelligence Squadron and their families celebrated their time working with the MC-12W and the accomplishments they achieved.

"Every single person that I've met has poured their heart and soul into this, and we've had some great successes," said Lt. Col. Joseph M. Laws, 427th RS commander. "The real victory is the people that got to come home."

Although deployed Airmen are still supporting the mission downrange with the Army, the fini flight represents Air Combat Command's last MC-12W sortie. The final flight is a step toward the transformation of joint capabilities as the MC-12W moves to its new force providers.

The MC-12W is a medium- to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft, capable of full-motion video, communications intelligence and signals intelligence that directly supports ground forces.

The aircraft has flown more than 400,000 combat hours and participated in more than 79,000 combat sorties since flying its first combat mission June 10, 2009.

"Warfare is ultimately a human endeavor; it is the marriage of technology and people," said Col. Douglas J. Lee, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander. "The MC-12 is a great story because it linked those people in the aircraft with people on the ground, and it allowed them to carry out a critically important mission."

MC-12s have enabled ground forces to target high-value individuals and terrorist networks, provided situational awareness during troops-in-contact battles, and helped divert convoys around improvised explosive devices.

"Throughout the program, MC-12 Airmen have often been called airpower pioneers and game-changers, but even these bold terms understate the achievements of more than 2,200 Airmen who built and strengthened the program." said Col. Darren B. Halford, 9th Operations Group commander.  "While we reflect and commemorate today, we remember that our Airmen are still in combat, augmenting Army crews for another few weeks. This has been a landmark joint program, from air-to-ground joint integration, to joint aircrews flying together in the aircraft."

An American flag was flown in the MC-12W on the fini flight to commemorate its historical achievements thus far. The flag will be sent to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to be archived.

"It's bittersweet for a lot of us to see this plane be transferred," Laws said.  "Our MC-12 Airmen are excited to go on and move toward their next challenges throughout the Air Force, but we are all going to miss the MC-12."

Beale has been the home to the MC-12W since June 6, 2011, Laws added, and the hard work and dedication of Airmen have made it possible for the aircraft to accomplish its mission.

"Our Airmen will miss this rewarding mission," Halford said. "Although the mission is leaving Beale and Air Combat Command, the aircraft are going to very good homes. Our joint and total force partners will ensure the MC-12 continues to help find, fix and finish the enemies of freedom."

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