Final flight for pilot marks first flight for his godson
By Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa, Florida National Guard Public Affairs
/ Published June 17, 2011
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As one pilot's career came to an end at the 125th Fighter Wing recently, another pilot's career with the Florida National Guard was just taking flight.
On June 8 Commander of the 125th Operations Group Col. William "Yogi" Bair completed the final F-15 Eagle flight of his career with the Florida Air National Guard. Bair, who is retiring from the Florida Air National Guard after more than 25 years of military service, was taking his traditional "fini flight" in the skies over Jacksonville; riding with him in the two-seat
F-15 was his godson 1st Lt. Brannon Ferguson, who was taking his first flight at the 125th Fighter Wing.
"I'm sad to see one chapter of my life close, but excited to see a new chapter open," said Bair, who will soon be flying as a civilian pilot with World Airways. "I'll miss the camaraderie and I'll miss the flying."
After racking up almost 4,000 military flight hours in his career - which included a high-profile flyover of Super Bowl XLIV in Miami - Bair said he was ready to move on and was pleased with his military career.
"Being a pilot in the Air Force has been an awesome way of life," Bair said.
"I could not have scripted my life out any better."
Ferguson, a former crew chief at the 125th Fighter Wing who decided to return to the unit as a pilot, said he was honored to fly in his first F-15 flight there with his godfather and felt this was a "passing of the torch."
"This is pretty awesome to come here at the end of an era and start a new one," Ferguson said.
The "fini" flight is a long standing U.S. Air Force tradition where pilots commemorate their final military flight. In keeping with tradition, Bair was hosed down with water by friends and family on the 125th's flight line after stepping out of the cockpit for the last time.