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Face of Defense: Flight Engineer Reaches 10,000-Hour Milestone

By Air Force Senior Airman Ross M. Tweten
Special to American Forces Press Service

SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 8, 2008 – A flight engineer with the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing’s 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron surpassed 10,000 flight hours during a KC-10 Extender mission March 29.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Robert Fisher, 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron flight engineer, steps off a KC-10 Extender after his landmark flight surpassing 10,000 flight hours for his career, March 29, 2008. Courtesy photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Senior Master Sgt. Robert Fisher, a St. Petersburg, Fla., native home-stationed at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., ended his landmark flight with 10,003 hours.

“The most difficult part about achieving this milestone is just being around long enough to do it,” he said with a chuckle. “It feels excellent to be among such a rarified group of people.”

The 10,000-flight-hour community is small, and achieving this milestone is all about longevity, he said. Fisher has been flying the line since 1986. He has been in the air as a flight engineer on the C-141 Starlifter and the KC-10 Extender, and has served in operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

“When I first came into the Air Force, there were a lot of 10,000-hour crew members around, and I thought, ‘Wow, I’d like to do that,’” Fisher said. “But as the years went by, I felt like I’d never get there because, well, our airplanes fly much faster. So I figured 5,000 would be nice. Then, after I reached that, I figured I could probably do about 7,500.”

Fisher continued to exceed his goals and reset them. “So, when I passed 8,500, it finally hit me that I was really close to my goal of 10,000, and that maybe I could do this, so here I am.”

Air Force Lt. Col. Tim White, 908th EARS commander, said most flyers accumulate 3,000 to 5,000 hours in the span of a career.

“For Sergeant Fisher to eclipse 10,000 hours is a reflection of great dedication to the mission and the art of flying,” he said. “If one were to fly around the world for 10,000 hours, he or she would circle the planet over 300 times, or go back and forth to the moon nine times. Sergeant Fisher is one of the greatest assets in the KC-10 community, and his work ethic speaks for itself.”

Fisher has had a long bird’s-eye view of much of the globe, and he gives most of that credit to the Air Force.

“I’ve been really lucky in my life, in that the Air Force has given me the opportunities to see a lot of really excellent places and travel the world,” he said. “When I enlisted in ’81, the recruiter said, ‘Hey join the Air Force, see the world,’ and the Air Force has kept up its end of the bargain on that one.”

“I’d like to say that I’ve given the Air Force all these wonderful things,” he continued, “but to be honest, the Air Force has given Bob Fisher way more than Bob Fisher has given the Air Force.”

(Air Force Senior Airman Ross M. Tweten serves with 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)

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