Tag Archives: 144th Fighter Wing

California Air National Guard F-15 Eagle Boarding Ladder Deployed in Flight During Flyover at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles

Incident Renews Conversation About USAF F-15 Eagle Age and Maintenance Condition.

A California Air National Guard McDonnell-Douglas/Boeing F-15C Eagle from the 194th Fighter Squadron of the 144th Fighter Wing at Fresno Air National Guard Base in Fresno, California raised eyebrows among sharp-eyed spectators during an opening flyover at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California over the July 4th holiday.

As the nice-looking four aircraft formation of F-15C Eagles flew over the stadium for the traditional national anthem opening of the Los Angeles Dodgers versus the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game a few people noticed the folding pilot boarding ladder open and extended outside the number two aircraft. The telescoping boarding ladder is stowed inside a secure compartment covered by an access panel in flight.

Photos of the open ladder appeared on the Facebook page “Air Force amn/nco/snco” (airmen, non-commissioned officers/senior non-commissioned officers). The page has become an unofficial source of insider information about air force incidents since the U.S. Air Force issued a “media reset” memo on March 1, 2018 directing more restrictive policies for air force public affairs.

While the folding crew ladder on the F-15 Eagle is reported to be rated sturdy enough to be extended during low-speed flight without creating a potential hazard, the inadvertent deployment of the telescoping ladder at high speeds could be serious if the ladder broke off the aircraft and fragments entered the left engine intake creating a “FOD” or Foreign Object Damage emergency. If the ladder opened during relatively low performance flying like a formation flyover, the implications during high performance maneuvering could be more serious.

The cause of the ladder opening during flight is unknown, but it could be from an accidental failure to adequately secured the crew ladder door or from a maintenance issue.

File photo of the folding boarding ladder on an F-15C Eagle that remained open during the flyover at Dodger Stadium on July 4th. (Photo: USAF/Senior Airman Omari Bernard.)

While there is no official word on the cause of the incident, journalist Tyler Rogoway at The War Zone learned that the F-15Cs in the flyover originated from Joint Forces Training Base – Los Alamitos in Los Alamitos, California. There may not have been dedicated F-15 boarding ladders at the facility, necessitating a need to use the internally stored, telescoping ladders on the F-15Cs.

Rogoway also reported he spoke to Colonel Victor Sikora, the “144th Operations Group commander”, about the incident. Col. Sikora reportedly told Rogoway as published in a July 5, 2018 report on The War Zone that, “The issue didn’t make itself known until the jets were on the move and the ladder only popped out once they were airborne. Apparently, the Eagle’s ladder has been rated up to a ‘high speed’ and has no adverse impact on the F-15’s handling characteristics within its tested envelope. Considering the flyover speed is 300 knots, it was in no way a safety factor and the mission was able to continue. All this was decided after a specific checklist was performed and the flight had a good handle on the situation.”

While the incident was not serious, it continues the conversation about the age and maintenance condition of some U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve aircraft.

The McDonnell-Douglas/Boeing F-15C Eagle has been in U.S. Air Force service since January 1976 and is also operated by the Israeli Air Force, the Saudi Air Force and the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force. The twin-engine, single seat variant involved in this incident has an outstanding combat record with over 100 aerial victories, mostly in Israeli service.

Top image: The crew boarding ladder protruding from an F-15C Eagle during a flyover at Dodger Stadium on July 4th. (Photo: via Facebook/Air Force amn/nco/snco)

California ANG’s 144th FW Launched 16 F-15 Eagle Jets In The Wing’s First Ever Large-Scale Aircraft Generation Exercise

California Air National Guard’s “Quick Draw” exercise put the 144th Fighter Wing’s readiness to test.

On Dec. 21, the 144th Fighter Wing, based at California Air National Guard Base Fresno, California, took part in Operation Quick Draw, the wing’s first ever large-scale aircraft generation exercise. During the uncommon drills, the unit, whose mission is to provide Air Superiority in support of worldwide joint operations as well as Air Defense of the West Coast of the United States, was called to prepare as many F-15 Eagles for combat as possible with only a 24-hour notice.

In the end the unit was able to generate and launch 16 out of 16 F-15 Eagle fighter jets, a 100% success rate according to Col. Reed Drake, Commander of the 144th FW.

A 144th FW pilot prepares to launch during Operation Quick Draw.

Although pretty uncommon in the past, these short-notice combat readiness drills are becoming part of the periodic ANG units tactical evaluations: on Nov. 22, more or less one month before the 144th FW executed the Quick Draw, the 142nd Fighter Wing/123rd Fighter Squadron “Redhawks”, based at Portland International Airport, took part in a similar exercise launching 13 F-15s within 24 hours. With ANG units supporting the various iterations of a Theater Security Package (TSP), a temporary deployment from CONUS (Continental US) of a force whose aim is to augment the Air Force presence in a specific region for deterrence purposes, assessing the Fighter Wing’s ability to deploy anywhere in the world with a short notice has become extremely important. And the 144th FW is among the units that have already deployed abroad in support of a TSP as part of an EFS (Experiditionary Fighter Squadron): in April 2016, along with the 104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Air National Guard Base, the 144th Fighter Wing, deployed to Europe with a dozen F-15s (four were deployed to Iceland to provide air policing duties) for a 6-month TSP in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, with the goal to “[…] demonstrate the U.S. commitment to a Europe that is whole, free, at peace, secure, and prosperous and to deter further Russian aggression.”

The F-15Cs of the 144th FW prepare to launch from Fresno ANGB on Dec. 21, 2017.

Image credit: Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Chris Drudge

Awesome photos feauture U.S. F-15C Eagles participating in Exercise Vigilant Shield 16

Some cool F-15C Eagle air-to-air images.

As we have recently explained, thanks to its privileged position onboard a tanker, the boomer has a unique place from which he can take interesting photos of military aircraft.

Taken by photographers MSgt. David Loeffler and SSgt. Christian Jadot from the boomer position, these cool shots prove once again this claim.

Taken during Exercise Vigilant Shield 16, which took place from Oct. 15 to Oct. 26 and involved approximately 700 members from the Canadian Armed Forces, the United States Air Force, United States Navy and the United States Air National Guard, the following pictures show F-15C Eagles assigned to 194th Fighter Squadron from the California Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker.

Even though the U.S.’s premier air superiority fighter is the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, the F-15 is still one of the best western interceptors and the Eagles of the units belonging to the U.S. Air Force and to the Air National Guard are routinely deployed overseas for both training and real operations.

Image credit: MSgt. David Loeffler and SSgt. Christian Jadot / U.S. Air Force