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107th Airlift Wing takes farewell flight in C-130
107th Airlift Wing Commander, Col. John J. Higgins, completes his "fini flight," his last flight as a navigator on September 25, 2014. The aircrew flew its last C-130 mission at Niagara Falls Reserve Station before converting to MQ-9 operations. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo/Staff Sgt. Ryan Campbell)
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107th Airlift Wing conducts final C-130 flight

Posted 10/1/2014   Updated 10/1/2014 Email story   Print story


by Capt. Elaine Nowak
107th Airlift Wing

10/1/2014 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- Aircrews from the 107th Airlift Wing flew their final Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft flight and were greeted with a water salute here Sept. 25.

The unit is in the process of converting from the C-130 to the Air Force MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft.

The flight was the last time 107th aircrew members will fly C-130s. The mission was flown in partnership with the 914th Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve, who will continue to fly the C-130 from Niagara.

It is a long-standing aviation and Air Force tradition that marks the milestone of an aircrew member's last flight. Comrades spray water or champagne on the aircrew as they exit the aircraft. It is dubbed the "fini flight."

As the aircraft taxied in, two fire trucks from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station Fire Emergency Services made an archway of water. Members of the 107th AW and 914th AW lined the flightline to be present for the historic event. As the crew exited the aircraft, they were met with buckets of water, sprays of champagne and cheers.

Col. John J. Higgins, 107th Airlift Wing commander served as the navigator for the fini flight. It was the last flight of his military career.

"It is a day of mixed emotions," Higgins said. "We are transitioning from the C-130, which we've been flying since 2008 and have become comfortable with, having deployed with it to Iraq and Afghanistan. However, we look to the future with excitement as we take on the MQ-9 mission."

"It was nostalgic. I have been flying for 25 years," said Lt. Col. Douglas Eoute, who was the aircraft commander for the flight. I"t was bittersweet. We are looking forward to the future but we're going to miss flying up in the aircraft."

Sept. 25 marked the end of the C-130 era for the 107th AW. The conversion to the RPA mission is underway. Many members are currently in training or have recently completed training as RPA pilots, sensor operators, intelligence coordinators and other high-tech communications positions. The unit is on course to be fully operational by 2017.

Since it was first organized during World War II the wing has flown propeller driven fight planes, supersonic jets designed to knock down enemy bombers, ground attack aircraft and giant Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the community for their support of the 107th and ask for their continued support as we convert to the MQ-9," Higgins said. "I'd also like to thank the 914th Airlift Wing for being our partners in C-130 operations and convey my gratitude for all they have done for us."

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